During the 2003 General Assembly session, the Maryland Public Charter School Act was passed and Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. signed the measure into law on May 22, 2003. The new law authorizes the establishment of public charter schools in Maryland. This Maryland Public Charter Schools Model Policy and Resource Guide is designed to guide local boards of education and school systems in Maryland in assisting individuals and organizations interested in establishing public charter schools.
With the enactment of the new law, Maryland joins a growing number of states that allow the development and operation of public charter schools. The Maryland statute invites the creation of public charter schools to help introduce alternative means within the public school system to provide innovative learning opportunities and creative educational approaches to improve the education of all students.
Maryland’s law defines a “public charter school” as a “public school” that is nonsectarian, is chosen by parents for their children, and is open to all students on a space available basis. A public charter school can be either a newly created school or a conversion of an already operating public school. A public charter school operates with the approval of a local board of education in accordance with a written Charter Agreement executed between the local board of education and the administrative entity operating the public charter school. Just as any other public school, a public charter school is subject to federal, state and local laws prohibiting discrimination and must comply with all applicable health and safety laws.
A state charter school policy was approved by the State Board of Education on June 22, 2010. This policy was established to clearly define the obligations of Charter Schools and their authorizers. The State Board of Education recognizes that providing flexibility and autonomy in exchange for innovation, education reform and high accountability is a key concept of the Charter School vision.