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The Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) is committed to serving, inspiring, and promoting student and public school success.
Strategic campaigns to raise awareness of the overall benefits of education
Improving access to inclusive, equitable, high quality education.
Meeting the emerging needs of the community by providing leadership and support for children, schools, and the greater community.
A premier service organization.
Fostering respectful, supportive, and inclusive work environments within and across branches, departments, clusters, and sites.
The information below relies heavily on the California Department of Education’s website at
http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cs/re/cefcharterschools.asp and, where applicable, Santa Clara County Board of Education policy. The California Education Code is referred to below as Education Code or EC. These FAQs will be expanded periodically to include additional questions and answers.
Q: What is a charter school? A: Charter schools are public schools, and they may provide instruction in grades transitional-kindergarten through twelve. A charter school is typically organized by a group of teachers, parents, community leaders, or a community‐based organization, and is authorized by an existing local public school board, county board of education, or the State Board of Education (SBE). Specific goals, operating procedures and a thorough description of the educational program for the charter school are detailed in a legally binding agreement or "charter" between the authorizing board and charter organizers. A charter school is exempted from many of the statutes and regulations that apply to school districts. Students enroll in charter schools on a voluntary basis.
Q: Are charters public schools? A: Yes. Charter schools are under the jurisdiction of the Public School System, as specified in California Education Code (EC) Section
Q: Where can I find a list of all charter schools within Santa Clara County? A: A list of all charter schools located within Santa Clara County may be found at: https://www.sccoe.org/supoffice/charter-schools-office/Pages/Santa-Clara-County-Charter-Schools.aspx
Q: Who is eligible to write and apply for a charter? A: Anyone may write and submit a charter petition. However, for new charter schools (not conversions of existing public schools) charter developers must obtain the validated signatures of either 50 percent (50%) of the teachers meaningfully interested in teaching at the school, or 50 percent (50%) of the parents of pupils expected to enroll at the school. For conversion schools, signatures of 50 percent (50%) of the teachers at the school to be converted are required. The petition must contain a prominent statement that a signature means that the person signing is meaningfully interested in teaching in, or in having his or her child attend, the school. The proposed charter must be attached to the petition. Education Code Section
47605 (a) provides additional information about required signatures.
The procedures to be used if the charter school closes.
The procedures to be used if the charter school closes.
A county board of education must hold a public hearing for a charter petition received on appeal from a school district within 60 days of receipt of the completed petition and make a decision on the charter within 90 days of receipt of the petition. A public hearing for a petition for a countywide charter school must occur within 60 days of receipt of the petition and the county board must render a decision within 90 days of receipt of the petition.
Q: What is the process for applying to the County Board of Education to open a charter school? A: The Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) strongly recommends that a prospective petitioner schedule an interview to become oriented to the process for opening a charter school. The process includes, but is not limited to, an orientation interview, submission of the completed charter petition and application (1 hard copy and a flash-drive of all electronic documents and appendices), completion of the SCCOE Staff Charter Review Matrix, and submission of any supplementary documents at the time the petition is submitted. Submission Process for Petitions Submitted on Appeal
Q: Who, at the Santa Clara County Office of Education, will review and evaluate a charter school petition and the capacity of the petitioner group? A: SCCOE's Charter Schools Department staff in consultation with SCCOE staff experts from Business Services, Personnel Services, Education Services, Student Services, and the Office of the Superintendent review and evaluate the charter petition using the SCCOE Charter Schools Department Review Matrix.
47605(e)(3)(f) prohibit the governing board of a school district from requiring pupils to attend a charter school or from requiring any employee of the school district to be employed in a charter school.
Numbers 7 & 8 only apply to review of new charters.
47605.6 (b) specifies that, “A county board of education may grant a charter for the operation of a school under this part only if the board is satisfied that granting the charter is consistent with sound educational practice and that the charter school has reasonable justification for why it could not be established by petition to a school district….”
Q: Can the County Office of Education consider the impact on local district schools when deciding whether to authorize a charter school? A: The County Office of Education, or any authorizing agencies, cannot consider the impact on local district’s schools when deciding whether to authorize a charter school.
Regulations pertaining to charter school closure are found in California Code of Regulations, Title 5, sections 11962 and 11962.1. A recommended process for closing a charter school can be found on the California Department of Education’s Charter Schools Division Web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/ch/csclosurerules.asp
Numbers 7 & 8 only apply to review of new charters.
A petition must present a sound educational program and those identified to lead and operate the school must demonstrate a strong capacity to successfully implement the program as set forth in the petition. Reasonably comprehensive descriptions of each required element are thus evaluated based on the extent to which the soundness of the educational program and the capacity of the petitioner can be established.
Q: Can the Board of Education’s denial of a charter petition be appealed? A: Yes. A petitioner may submit the same charter petition to the County Board of Education for review and approval, and if that is not successful, then the denied petition may be further submitted to the State Board of Education for review to determine whether the County Board of Education abused its discretion. District staff may choose to defend its denial recommendation at the county and state level in an effort to reiterate the material nature of the findings outlined in the staff report, as well as to encourage petitioners to address these findings and resubmit their charter petition for consideration by the District Board of Education.
Q: Can the county board’s denial of a charter petition be appealed? A1: If the denial concerns a charter petition that was submitted to the county board either directly or on appeal from a district, the denied petition may be further submitted to the State Board of Education for review to determine whether the County Board abused its discretion.
47605.6 (k) specifies, “If a county board denies a [countywide charter] petition, the petitioner may not elect to submit the petition for the establishment of the charter school to the State Board of Education.”
Q: What is SCCOE’s process for reviewing charter petitions received on appeal? A: Charter petitions denied by a local school district governing board within the Santa Clara County may be submitted to the County Board for review within 30 calendar days of the school district's denial. The SCCOE has a team of charter petition reviewers that is composed of experts from Business Services, Personnel Services, Educational Services, Student Services, and the Charter Schools Department. The process for reviewing a charter petition on appeal is the same as the initial process used for the initial review of a charter petition and is specified in Education Code Section
47605 (c) and for a countywide charter petition, Education Code
47605.6 (b). Staff reports and board transmittals from the denying school district are generally requested during the review of a charter petition that has been received on appeal.
Q: Who is responsible for student records? A: The charter school’s governing board is responsible for developing policies and procedures to address the proper maintenance of student records. EC Section
47605(c)(5)(P) requires each charter to contain a description of the procedures for maintenance and transfer of pupil records including what happens to those records if the school closes.
Q: Will parents be required to volunteer? A: While parental involvement is a critical key to student success, no student would ever be punished or lose their place at a school based on a parent's volunteer hours. Decisions about parental involvement often involve an agreement between parents, teachers, and administrators. Volunteering is NOT expected or a requirement (EC
Q: What is the protocol for filing a complaint about a charter school?
A: As each charter school is its' own entity, complaints should be addressed following each school's individual complaint process. This process usually starts by first talking with the teacher and, if necessary, the school principal. If the problem is not resolved, the school's governing board should be contacted, followed by the school's charter authorizing entity.
SCCOE's Charter Schools Department's process upon receiving a complaint is to provide information and clarification regarding the process and redirect the complaint back to the charter school.
Charter schools receiving federal funds are subject to provisions of the Uniform Complaint Procedure. SCCOE's Charter Schools Department staff are available to clarify and assist if this step is necessary. Contact (408) 453-3600 for assistance or visit the California Department of Education at https://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/ for more information.
Q: Can a traditional high school refuse to accept credits earned by a student who transfers from a charter high school? A: Yes. California EC Section
47605(c)(5)(A)(ii) requires that each charter for a school serving high school students include a description of procedures the school will use to notify parents about course transferability to other public high schools and the eligibility of courses to meet college entrance requirements. A school district governing board may establish criteria for accepting course credits earned at another school and may disallow credits where it deems it appropriate to do so.
Q: Is it OK for charter schools to charge for books and instructional materials? A: No. As a public school, charter schools may not charge tuition or fees (EC
49011). For required courses during the school day or during intervention, charter schools may not charge for books and instructional materials. They may charge for supplemental programs, child care and sports.
Additional information on Prop 39 can be accessed from the California Department of Education’s website at
http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/fa/cs; and from the
California Code of Regulations, Title 5, sections 11969.1, 11969.2, 11969.3, 11969.4, 11969.6, 11969.7, 11969.8, 11969.10, 11969.11 at
The last two items only apply to review of new charters.
“The [authorizing] board is not allowed to consider the potential impacts a charter school would have on the other educational programs of a district or the district’s fiscal health or state of its facilities, among other issues.”