New Jersey Charter School Program Act

“The Legislature finds and declares that the establishment of charter schools as part of this State’s program of public education can assist in promoting comprehensive educational reform by providing a mechanism for the implementation of a variety of educational approaches which may not be available in the traditional public school classroom. Specifically, charter schools offer the potential to improve pupil learning; increase for students and parents the educational choices available when selecting the learning environment which they feel may be the most appropriate; encourage the use of different and innovative learning methods; establish a new form of accountability for schools; require the measurement of learning outcomes; make the school the unit for educational improvement; and establish new professional opportunities for teachers.

The Legislature further finds that the establishment of a charter school program is in the best interests of the students of this State and it is therefore the public policy of the State to encourage and facilitate the development of charter schools.”

These are the overarching policy declarations of The New Jersey Charter School Program Act — N.J.S.A. 18A: 36A

Passed and signed into law in 1995, the act, which took effect in 1996:

  • Sets out the application process to establish charter schools subject to approval by the New Jersey Department of Education.
  • Requires that charter schools be open to all students on a space available basis without discrimination.
  • Gives preference for enrollment in a charter school to students who reside in the school district in which the charter school is located and enrollment priority to siblings of charter school students.
  • Calls on charter schools to operate in accordance with their charters and the laws and regulations that govern other public schools unless an exception is requested and allowed by the state except for assessment, testing, civil rights and student health and safety regulations from which no exception is permitted.
  • Requires that the local school district in which a charter school is located must pay the charter school for each student enrolled under a formula that aims to give charter students 90 percent of the funding for students in the district’s traditional public schools.
  • Bars public funding for charter school facilities — charter schools must buy or lease their space from operating funds.
  • Requires that charter students residing in the school district where their school is located receive transportation the same as transportation for students attending district schools while non-resident students receive transportation according to state regulations.
  • Sets out the authority and duties of charter school boards of trustees, requires that all classroom teachers and professional support staff hold appropriate New Jersey certification, sets out other rights and obligations of charter school staffs
  • Requires each charters school to submit an annual report to the local board of education, the county superintendent of schools, and the state commissioner of education.
  • Addresses the granting, renewal or revocation of charters if that is necessary.
  • Provides that an initial charter will be granted for four-years with subsequent five-year renewals.

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