About Charter Schools

How to Start a Charter School


You Can Start a Charter Public School!

Parents, teachers, community leaders … Anyone who is concerned about excellence in public education can start a charter public school. Here’s a brief outline of the process.  Additional information, including a schedule for information sessions and deadlines, is available on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Website.

Step 1: Outline your vision to the state 

Your founding group submits an application to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) that explains your plans for the school—mission, curriculum, theme, teaching method—and what qualifies you to create and manage it. These initial applications, are reviewed by the commissioner of education. 

Step 2: Submit a final application 

If you are invited to submit a final application, you must meet the following criteria 

  • Is there a need in the community for education alternatives?
  • Is there demand in the community for a charter public school?
  • Does the applicant group have the capacity and ability to establish and operate a successful charter school?

Step 3: Attend public hearings and final interviews

During the months of December and January, public hearings are held in the communities the school would serve and you will participate in the final interview with the DESE. 

Step 4: Wait patiently for the February vote

The commissioner reviews DESE staff recommendations and makes his or her own recommendations to the full Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). In February, the board votes on which charters to grant. 

Step 5: Get busy creating your school

Legally, the charter is granted to the new school’s board of trustees; you can’t receive a charter without one. New charter schools typically need about 18 months to get up and running, opening in the fall of the year after the charter was awarded. 

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