The following was included in TCTA's 2019-20 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of September 2019 but is subject to change.

For more information on Texas charter schools, including their state evaluations, click here.

Protections

Although charter school employees are public employees, they are not entitled to all of the same legal protections as employees of Texas public school districts. These include contracts, state leave and class-size limits. However, charter school employees are protected by state immunity laws and limitations on liability, and they are required to participate in the Teacher Retirement System. REMINDER: In Districts of Innovation, depending on the district’s specific plan, teachers may be limited to the same rights and benefits as charter school employees.  

As of the most recent legislative session, the law specifies that open-enrollment charter school employees are considered public employees with regard to the law that prohibits public employees from striking or entering into a collective bargaining agreement. This change also would encompass the statute allowing public employees to file a grievance regarding wages, hours and conditions of work.

Qualifications

State law does not require charter school teachers and principals to be certified, except in the case of teachers assigned to teach in special education or bilingual programs, in which case the appropriate state certification is required. State law also requires open-enrollment charter school teachers and principals to have a baccalaureate degree. Charter schools must perform criminal history checks on prospective employees and volunteers. HB 3, passed in 2019, includes a provision subjecting open-enrollment charter schools to the Whistleblower Act and makes them subject to the do-not-hire registry.

Assessment and accountability

All charter schools are required to administer the state assessments and are part of the state accountability system, though many are part of the alternative accountability system.

Pledge requirement

Charter schools are required to, once during each school day, recite the Pledges of Allegiance to the U.S. and Texas flags. This must be followed by a moment of silence.

Charter school basics

The commissioner of education may grant a charter for an open-enrollment charter school to an eligible entity: an institution of higher education, a private or independent institution of higher education, a 501(c)(3) organization, or a governmental entity. The initial term of a charter is five years. The commissioner has authority over monitoring and revoking charters.

Currently, the total number of charters that may be granted in Texas is 305, up from the 2018 cap of 285. (There is no limit on the number of charter campuses that can be approved under a granted charter.) Also, an unlimited number of charters can be granted to institutions of higher learning, including junior or community colleges; dropout recovery schools; or detention, correctional or residential facilities established for juvenile offenders. 

SB 11, passed in 2019, provides that open-enrollment charter schools are subject to the provisions of the omnibus school safety bill.

District-charter partnerships

Under a 2017 law, districts can form a partnership with a charter school to provide services to or operate a campus, including as an alternative to intervention under the state accountability statutes. Campus employees must be consulted regarding provisions to be included in the contract between the district and the charter school. See page 35 for more information.