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Charter Schools

Greetings from the Charter Schools staff at the Pennsylvania Department of Education!
We are excited to announce that new resources designed to support charter schools, district authorizers, and commonwealth communities will be released in 2018. Technical assistance toolkits containing nationally recognized best practices are being created in collaboration with various stakeholder groups, while responses to frequently-asked questions are being compiled as reference guides for educators, administrators, and parents. Both are part of our ongoing efforts to ensure that all students have equitable access to quality, innovative, and engaging public education in Pennsylvania.
For additional information on these projects, or to let us know how we may serve you in the coming year, please visit our Contact Us page.


What is a Charter School?

Charter schools were created to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, students and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently from the existing school district structure as a method to accomplish the following: improve student learning; increase learning opportunities for all students; encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods; create new professional opportunities for teachers; provide parents and students with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities that are available within the public school system; and be accountable for meeting measurable academic standards. Charter schools are exempt from many educational mandates. Some of the mandates that charter schools are not exempt from include health and safety, special education, civil rights, student accountability, employee criminal history checks, open meetings, freedom of information requirements, generally accepted accounting principles, and certain provisions of the Pennsylvania School Code. 

Both local school boards and PDE are independently granted authority to review and act upon applications for the establishment of charter schools, to oversee and regulate charter schools, and to revoke, renew or not renew charters.

Schools that operate under a charter are divided into three general categories—charter schools, regional charter schools, and cyber charter schools. Both charter schools and regional charter schools (collectively referred to as "charter schools") are independent public schools established and operated under a charter from the local school board and in which students are enrolled or attend. These schools are commonly referred to as "brick-and-mortar" charter schools and focus on teacher-led discussion and teacher knowledge imparted to students through face-to-face interaction at the schools' physical facilities located within the boundaries of the school district that granted the charter. A cyber charter school is an independent public school established and operated under a charter from PDE and in which the school uses technology in order to provide a significant portion of curriculum and to deliver a significant portion of instruction to its students through the internet or other electronic means without a school-established requirement that students be present at a supervised physical facility designated by the school, except on a very limited basis, such as for standardized test.

Charter schools and cyber charter schools must be organized as public, nonprofit corporations.

Where are Charter Schools in Pennsylvania

The documents below provide an alphabetical list of operating charter schools in Pennsylvania.  The first document contains a list of all charter schools and cyber charter schools with county name, institution name, telephone number, address, institution open date, charter authority, and chief administrator.  For cyber charter schools, the county name and address refers to each school's administrative office.  The second document contains a list of only cyber charter schools with all of the information contained within the first document in addition to each school's website.

Where can I find more information about Charter Schools?

The following resources may be useful to learn more about charter schools in Pennsylvania.