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Massachusetts Charter Schools


Authorized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Education Reform Act of 1993, charter schools are independent public schools that operate under five year charters granted by the Commonwealth's Board of Education.

The increased freedom available to charter schools coupled with increased accountability, infuses all aspects of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's oversight of charter schools, beginning with the rigorous application process that groups must go through to receive a charter. Once the Board of Education has awarded a charter, the new charter school has the freedom to organize around a core mission, curriculum, theme, or teaching method. It is allowed to control its own budget and hire (and fire) teachers and staff. In return for this freedom, a charter school must demonstrate good results within five years or risk losing its charter.

The Board of Education is obligated by Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 71, Section 89, and attendant regulations to conduct an ongoing review of charter schools and, in the fifth year of a school's operation, decide whether its charter should be renewed. Specifically, the renewal of a public school charter is based on affirmative answers to three questions:

  • Is the academic program a success?
  • Is the school a viable organization?
  • Is the school faithful to the terms of its charter?

The answers to these questions are based on a variety of information that is both provided by the school and gathered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. An overview of the accountability process can be found in the Accountability Guide listed below.

Each school is assigned a liaison who is able to respond to inquiries regarding any aspect of charter school accountability.

For general questions and concerns about charter schools please contact or call 781-338-3227 for assistance.

Last Updated: April 25, 2024

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.