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The Complete 2020 Guide to Ohio Public Charter and Community Schools

Jul 21, 2020 | About GIA

2020 has brought significant changes to K-12 education and this is causing a lot of parents to consider what education options are available for their children.  There are many options available to parents, their local public schools, public charter schools, private schools and online schools. 

We have put together this guide to help you understand what options are available for your child and help you understand more about public charter schools and how your child (or children) could attend.  Tuition-free public charter or community schools provide unique learning approaches that are an excellent fit for many children. We want to make the enrollment process as simple as possible by providing accurate information for parent’s most frequently asked questions.

This guide will provide answers to questions like, “What is a tuition-free public school?”,  “What tuition-free public school options are available in Ohio?” and “How do I enroll my student in charter school?”

If you are looking for answers to questions like these, read on!

What is a tuition-free public community/charter school in Ohio?

The first question we often get is “What is a tuition-free public charter school?”  We know it can be hard to distinguish between the different schooling options, so let us help.  According to the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools: 

Charter Schools are:

  • Are public schools
  • Are nonsectarian (non-religious)
  • Are nonprofit
  • Are tuition-free
  • Serve all student populations
  • Have more flexibility and greater accountability

In 1997, Ohio’s Charter Law passed to increase innovation, provide public educational options in the Urban 8 districts in the state and offer families choice and quality outside of neighborhood boundaries. Charter schools by law are publicly funded, tuition free schools that provide unique educational opportunities for students. In Ohio, charter schools include special focus schools for drop-out recovery, STEM education, experiential learning, arts immersion, college preparatory and special education needs such as autism.

Community schools, which are often called charter schools nationally and in other states, are public schools created in Ohio law; are independent of any school district; and are part of the state’s education program. Community schools are public schools of choice and are state and federally funded. There are two types of community schools in Ohio: start-up community schools and conversion community schools.

What tuition-free public charter schools are available for students living in Ohio?

Almost every child, if they live in Ohio, has a public charter school available for them to attend. That being said, ideally, you will be able to find a great public charter school close to home.  

Ohio has a number of great public charter schools including The Green Inspiration Academy. The Green Inspiration Academy is a free public charter school for grades K – 8 located in the Warrensville Heights area. Their program fosters environmental discovery, provides high-quality education to students, and aims to conduct intervention activities to help strengthen parent-teacher-student relationships.

The Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools also provides a charter school finder on their website for you to search for additional charter school options. 

Are public charter schools free in Ohio? Is there tuition?

Yes! Cost is obviously a critical component of school selection and so it is important to know that tuition-free public charter schools are free in Ohio for eligible students.

Can anyone go to a public charter school in Ohio?

Yes, charter schools are public schools that are tuition-free, nonsectarian, and open to all students who wish to attend. Charter schools permit parents, teachers and organizations to restore, reinvent, and innovate within classrooms. Choice is a key component of charter schools and families seeking educational equity, quality, stability and accountability.

What other counties and locations in Ohio are served by tuition-free public charter schools in Ohio?

In 1997, Ohio’s Charter Law passed to increase innovation, provide public educational options in the Urban 8 districts in the state and offer families choice and quality outside of neighborhood boundaries. Charter schools in Ohio are located primarily in the Urban 8 Districts: Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown. For more details about schools and their locations, 

How do I enroll my child in a tuition-free public charter school?

The enrollment process varies across schools, but we offer the following admissions checklist to help guide you through the enrollment process:

  • Student Admissions Profile and Parent Guardian Information (2 pages total)
  • Custody Papers (if applicable)
  • Emergency Contact Information
  • Parent Request for Release of Student Records
  • Child Health Assessment (2 pages)
  • Certificate of Immunization
  • Volunteer Form
  • Photograph/Videotape Permission form

Copies of other essential documents that must be submitted with the enrollment package:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Copy of the actual Social Security Card
  • Copy of Immunization Record
  • Proof of Residency (utility Bill, Tax Record, Lease) *CURRENT*
  • Application for Free and Reduced Lunch if applicable
  • Proof of Income (needed for Free and Reduced Lunch, if applicable)
  • IEP /ETR if applicable Records/*CURRENT*
  •  Withdraw Form from Previous School
  •  Driver’s license / Identification Required

You can get started enrolling withThe Green Inspiration Academy by visiting our admissions web page.

What are the requirements for acceptance into a charter school in Ohio?

By law, charter schools cannot have admission processes that unlawfully discriminate against students. Charter schools accept all students who want to attend. If there are more students who want to attend than there are seats available, a charter school will use a process to randomly select students, oftentimes a lottery system.

Are teachers required to be certified in Ohio?

Yes. However, a charter school may engage uncertified teachers to teach up to 12 hours per week. (Note: This option is not unique to charter schools–districts can employ such uncertified persons as well.) VIrtual schools must have an affiliation with at least one full-time teacher certificated in Ohio.

Citations: Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3314.03, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3314.21, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3319.283

Are public charter schools high quality? Do public charter schools need to meet state standards?

The answer to both of these questions is yes!  Charter schools must operate within the provisions of state and federal law. They must follow all health, safety and civil rights laws. In Ohio, the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Community Schools provides technical assistance to developers and authorizers of charter schools, approves organizations seeking to become authorizers of new start-up charter schools and oversees all authorizers. Charter Schools are subject to Ohio’s public transparency, open meetings and ethics laws.

What is the difference between public schools and charter schools in Ohio?

Tuition-free public charter schools in Ohio are public schools, but they have more flexibility in choosing their mission and model of education. 

Public charter schools will have different missions and approaches.  A great aspect of charter schools is that you can find the mission and values that work best for your child.  

We hope this guide was useful in answering some of the basic questions related to public community/charter schools in Ohio. If you are interested in learning more about public charter schools for your child, please feel free to contact us.