From the home office:
Charter schools are public schools that, by law, are free from many of the rules and regulations that apply to traditional public-school districts. In exchange for this freedom, charter schools are supposed to demonstrate positive outcomes, such as individual student growth, parent involvement, and overall school academic achievement. Charter schools are governed by an independent board of a non-profit entity.
What is a "charter"?
The "charter" is the contract between a non-profit entity and an allowable sponsor. The "charter" explains what the school wants to do, how they will go about it, what they will accomplish, and how they will measure their performance. An entity that fails to comply with the terms of its charter will have its charter revoked.
What is a "sponsor"?
A "sponsor" is an entity that, under state law is allowed to open, oversee, renew, and close charter schools. They are the entity that has the authority to approve a charter school to open and then holds the charter school accountable for the conditions in their contract or "charter." Sometimes sponsors are called "authorizers."
Are charter schools considered "public schools"?
Yes, charters are public schools. They are open to the public, funded by the public and accountable to the public.
How do charter schools differ from district public schools?
Charter schools are established by teachers, parents, principals, and educational experts and are autonomous from the public school system in their operations. A charter school will only remain open if it can consistently demonstrate sound performance and responsible governance.
Who can attend charter schools?
Charters are open to anyone. Like all public schools, charters may not discriminate based on race, religion, academic ability, disability or gender. Some charters may give priority to a neighborhood or to students who attended feeder schools, just like St. Louis Public Schools does. However, unlike SLPS, charter schools may not restrict enrollment based on academic performance. If there are more applicants than available seats, a lottery is used to determine who can attend.