Charter Schools: Does the state specify the students who may be given enrollment preference?

Charter Schools: Does the state specify the students who may be given enrollment preference?

January 2020


This resource contains information about the 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, with charter school laws. It does not contain any information for the five states that have not enacted charter school laws.
 

Does the state specify the students who may be given enrollment preference?
Alabama Yes. Enrollment preference must be given to those living in geographic proximity to start-up charter schools as well as those residing within the former attendance area for conversion charter schools. Schools must also give preference to those already enrolled in charter school the previous year and those with siblings already in enrolled. Charter schools may give preference to students whose parents founded and/or sit on the governing board of the charter school so long as enrollment does not exceed 10% of the total student population. If applications exceed the school's capacity, the school must use a random selection process after giving preference to students living in the school system in which the charter school is located.

Citations: Ala. Code § 16-6F-5; Ala. Code § 16-6F-6
Alaska No

Citations: Alaska Stat. Ann. § 14.03.265
Arizona Yes. A charter school must give enrollment preference to:
  • Students returning to the charter school in the second or any subsequent year of its operation.
  • Siblings of pupils already enrolled in the charter school.
Schools may give preference to to children in foster care, students who are homeless, and for pupils who either:
  • Are children, grandchildren or legal wards of any of the following: (a) Employees of the school. (b) Employees of the charter holder. (c) Members of the governing body of the school. (d) Directors, officers, partners or board members of the charter holder.
  • Attended another charter school or are the siblings of that pupil if the charter school previously attended by the pupil has the identical charter holder, board and governing board membership as the enrolling charter school or is managed by the same educational management organization, charter management organization, or educational service provider as determined by the charter authorizer.
If applications exceed a school's capacity, the charter school must hold an equitable selection process, such as a lottery, after giving preference to returning students and their siblings.

Citations: Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 15-184
Arkansas Yes. An open enrollment charter school may give preference to children of the founding members, full-time teachers and employees (up to 10% of students enrolled). Preference may also be given to siblings of students currently enrolled. Enrollment preference may not negatively affect desegregation efforts.

Citations: Ark. Code Ann. § 6-23-106; Ark. Code Ann. § 6-23-306
California Yes. Enrollment priority is given to pupils currently attending the school, pupils in an attendance area where 50% of more are eligible for free and reduced lunch, and pupils who reside within the district. Other enrollment preferences may be authorized by the chartering authority. Conversion charter schools must give preference to pupils who reside within the former attendance area of that charter school. Enrollment preferences may include, but are not limited to, siblings admitted or attending the school and children of the school's teachers, staff and founders. Priority order for enrollment preferences are to be determined by the charter petition, approved at a hearing, and be consistent with federal, state law and the state constitution.

Citations: Cal. Educ. Code § 47605; Cal. Educ. Code § 47605.3
Colorado No. However, greater consideration must be given to charter school applications designed to increase the educational opportunities of at-risk pupils. At-risk pupils are defined as pupils who, because of physical, emotional, socioeconomic, or cultural factors, are less likely to succeed in a conventional educational environment. A majority of a charter school's students, other than online students, must reside in the chartering school district or in contiguous school districts.

Citations: Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22-30.5-109; Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22-30.5-104; Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 22-30.5-103
Connecticut Yes. Schools may give enrollment preference to siblings. Enrollment is determined by lottery. Governing boards of schools may apply to the state board to waive enrollment lottery requirements only if the primary purpose of the charter school is to serve one or more groups of the following student populations:
  • Students with a history of behavioral and social difficulties.
  • Students identified as requiring special education.
  • English language learners.
  • Students of a single gender.
A charter school established at a school with an accountability ranking among the lowest 5% of all schools may not hold an enrollment lottery.

Citations: Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 10-66bb
Delaware Yes. Preferences in student admissions may be given to siblings of students enrolled at the school and students attending an existing public school converted to charter status. Children of a school's founders, up to 5% of the school's total student population. Students enrolling in a start-up charter school may be given preference under the following circumstances as long as the school has described its preferences in the charter:
  • Students residing within a five-mile radius of the school.
  • Students residing within the regular school district in which the school is located.
  • Students who have a specific interest in the school's teaching methods, philosophy or educational focus.
  • Students who are at risk of academic failure.
  • Children of persons employed on a permanent basis for at least 30 hours per week during the school year by the charter school.
In cases of over enrollment, schools must hold an enrollment lottery.

Citations: Del. Code Ann. tit. 14, § 506
District of Columbia Yes. If applications exceed capacity, the school must use a lottery for enrollment. A charter school may give preference to:
  • A sibling of a student already attending or selected for admission to the school.
  • The child of a member of the school's founding board, so long as enrollment of these students is limited to no more than 10% of the school's total enrollment or to 20 students, whichever is less.
  • The child of a full-time employee of the school who is a D.C. resident, so long as enrollment of these students is limited to no more than 10% of the school's total enrollment.
  • With the prior approval of the Public Charter School Board, an applicant with an IEP or an applicant in a disability category under IDEA.
Conversion schools must give enrollment priority to:
  • Students who were enrolled in the school at the time the charter school petition was granted.
  • Siblings of previously-enrolled students.
  • Students who reside within the attendance boundaries, if any, in which the school is located.


Citations: D.C. Code Ann. § 38-1802.06
Florida Yes. If applications exceed capacity, a charter school must hold a lottery. A charter school may give enrollment preference to the following students:
  • Siblings of a student enrolled in the charter school.
  • Children of a member of the governing board of the charter school.
  • Children of an employee of the charter school.
  • Children of an employee of the business partner of a charter school-in-the-workplace or a resident or employee of the municipality in which the charter school is located or a resident of a municipality that operates a charter school in-a-municipality.
  • Students who have successfully completed a voluntary prekindergarten education program provided by the charter school or the charter school's governing board during the previous year.
  • Children of an active duty member of any branch of the United States Armed Forces.
  • Children who attended or who are assigned to failing schools.
Conversion charter schools must give enrollment preference to students who would have otherwise attended that public school. The district school board is required to consult and negotiate with the conversion charter school every 3 years to determine whether realignment of the conversion charter school's attendance zone is appropriate in order to ensure that students residing closest to the charter school are provided with an enrollment preference.

A charter school may limit the enrollment process only to target the following student populations:
  • Students within specific age groups or grade levels.
  • Students considered at risk of dropping out of school or academic failure, including exceptional education students.
  • Students enrolling in a charter school-in-the workplace or charter school-in-a-municipality.
  • Students residing within a reasonable distance of the charter school. Such students are subject to a random lottery and to the racial/ethnic balance provisions or any federal provisions that require a school to achieve a racial/ethnic balance reflective of the community it serves or within the racial/ethnic range of other public schools in the same school district.
  • Students who meet reasonable academic, artistic or other eligibility standards established by the charter school and included in the charter school application and charter or, in the case of existing charter schools, standards that are consistent with the school's mission and purpose.
  • Students articulating from one charter school to another pursuant to an articulation agreement between the charter schools that has been approved by the sponsor.
Students living in a development in which a business entity provides the school facility and related property having an appraised value of at least $5 million to be used as a charter school to mitigate the educational impact created by the development of new residential dwelling units. Students living in the development are entitled to no more than 50% of the student stations in the charter school.State law requires that students with disabilities and students served in English for Speakers of Other Languages programs have an equal opportunity of being selected for enrollment in a charter school.

Citations: Fla. Stat. Ann. § 1002.33
Georgia Yes. A start-up (new) charter school must enroll any student who resides in the attendance zone specified in the charter. If applications exceeds the school's capacity, the school must hold a lottery. If allowed in the charter, the school may hold a weighted lottery for educationally disadvantaged students. A start-up charter school may give enrollment preference to:
  • A sibling of a student enrolled in the school.
  • A sibling of a student enrolled in another local school designated in the charter.
  • A student whose parent or guardian is a member of the governing board or is a full-time teacher, professional, or other employee at the school.
  • Students matriculating from a local school designated in the charter.
  • Children who matriculate from a pre-kindergarten program associated with the school, including programs that share common facilities or campuses with the school or programs that have established a partnership or cooperative efforts with the school.
A conversion charter school must enroll any student who resides in the attendance zone specified in the charter. If applications exceeds the school's capacity, the school must hold a lottery. If allowed in the charter, the school may hold a weighted lottery for educationally disadvantaged students. A conversion charter school may give enrollment preference to:
  • A sibling of a student enrolled in the school or in any school in the high school cluster.
  • A student whose parent or guardian is a member of the governing board or is a full-time teacher, professional, or other employee at the school.
  • Students who were enrolled in the school prior to its becoming a charter school.
  • Students who reside in the attendance zone specified in the charter.
  • Children who matriculate from a pre-kindergarten program associated with the school, including programs that share common facilities or campuses with the school or programs that have established a partnership or cooperative efforts with the school.
A state chartered special school must enroll any student who resides in the attendance zone specified in the charter. If applications exceeds the school's capacity, the school must hold a lottery. If allowed in the charter, the school may hold a weighted lottery for educationally disadvantaged students. A state chartered special school may give enrollment preference to:
  • A sibling of a student enrolled in the school.
  • A sibling of a student enrolled in another local school designated in the charter.
  • A student whose parent or guardian is a member of the governing board or is a full-time teacher, professional, or other employee at the school.
  • Students matriculating from a local school designated in the charter.
  • Children who matriculate from a pre-kindergarten program associated with the school, including programs that share common facilities or campuses with the school or programs that have established a partnership or cooperative efforts with the school.


Citations: Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-2066
Hawaii Yes. Start-up (new) charter schools are open to anyone residing in the state, although the school may select students through a lottery if applications exceed capacity. Startups must give enrollment preference to students of other charters that may have their charter revoked or closed. Startups may give preference to:
  • Students enrolled in the previous year.
  • Siblings of already enrolled students.
  • Educationally disadvantaged students through a weighted lottery.
  • Other students as permitted by the authorizer if consistent with law.
Startups may organize enrollment around a certain age group or special emphasis.

Conversion charter schools must enroll students in the school's former geographic service area and in the grades previously served by the school.

Citations: Haw. Rev. Stat. § 302D-34
Idaho Yes. Initial admission is determined by lottery. If applications exceed capacity, then the school's admission procedures may provide that preference be given in the following order:
  • Children of the school's founders, up to 10% of capacity.
  • Siblings of pupils already selected by the lottery or other random method.
  • Students seeking to transfer from another Idaho charter school at which they have been enrolled for at least one year, provided that this preference is subject to an existing written agreement for such preference between the subject charter schools.
  • Children residing in the charter school's primary attendance area.
  • Students selected through an equitable selection process such as a lottery.
If allowed in the charter application, a new charter school may include children of full-time employees in the 1st priority group.

If capacity is insufficient to enroll all pupils for subsequent school terms, then the admission procedures may provide that preference be given in the following order:
  • Pupils returning to the charter school in the 2nd or any subsequent year of its operation.
  • Children of the school's founders, provided that they not be more than 10% of capacity.
  • Siblings of pupils already enrolled in the public charter school.
  • Students seeking to transfer from another Idaho charter school at which they have been enrolled for at least one year, provided that this preference is subject to an existing written agreement for such preference between the subject charter schools.
  • Children residing in the charter school's primary attendance area.
  • Students selected through an equitable selection process such as a lottery.
If stated in the charter application, the following may be included in the 2nd priority group: (a) Children of full time employees and (b) Children who attended the school within the previous 3 years but withdrew due to a parent/guardian relocation due to an academic sabbatical, employer or military transfer or reassignment.

Citations: Idaho Code Ann. § 33-5206
Illinois Yes. Enrollment is open to students in the geographic boundaries served by the school, and if there are more eligible applicants than there are spaces available, applicants are to be selected by lottery. However, priority is to be given to siblings of pupils enrolled in the charter school and to pupils who were enrolled in the previous school year, unless expelled for cause. Priority may be given to pupils residing within the school's attendance boundary, if a boundary has been designated (the Chicago school board may designate attendance boundaries for up to one-third of the city's charter schools if it determines that attendance boundaries are needed to relieve overcrowding or to better serve low-income and at-risk students.)

Any charter school with a mission exclusive to educating high school dropouts may grant priority admission to students who are high school dropouts and/or students 16 or 15 years old at risk of dropping out and any charter school with a mission exclusive to educating students from low-performing or overcrowded schools may restrict admission to students who are from low-performing or overcrowded schools; “priority admission” for charter schools exclusively devoted to re-enrolled dropouts or students at risk of dropping out means a minimum of 90% of students enrolled are to be high school dropouts.

Any charter school located in a school district that contains all or part of a federal military base may set aside up to 33% of its current charter enrollment to students with parents assigned to the federal military base, with the remaining 67% subject to the general enrollment and lottery requirements; if a student with a parent assigned to the federal military base withdraws during the course of a school year for reasons other than grade promotion, those students with parents assigned to the federal military base are to have preference in filling the vacancy.

Any enrollment lottery must be administered and videotaped by the charter school. The authorizer or its designee must be allowed to be present or view the lottery in real time. The charter school must maintain a videotaped record of the lottery, including a time/date stamp. The charter school is required to transmit copies of the videotape and all records relating to the lottery to the authorizer on or before September 1 of each year.

Citations: 105 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/27A-4
Indiana Yes. Charter schools must admit or give equal chances for admittance to any eligible Indiana student who applies.

A charter school may limit new admissions in order to:
  • ensure that a current student may continue to attend that charter school in subsequent years,
  • ensure that a current student may may attend a different charter school held by the same organizer in subsequent years,
  • allow the siblings of current or alumni students to attend that same charter school,
  • all preschool students who attend a Level 3 or Level 4 Paths to Quality program preschool to attend kindergarten at a charter school if the charter school and preschool provider have entered into an agreement to share services or facilities,
  • allow students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch under the national lunch program to receive admission preference, if the preference is specifically provided for in the charter and is approved by the authorizer, and -allow each student who attends a charter school that is co-located within the charter school to receive admission preference, if the preference is specifically provided for in the charter and is approved by the authorizer.
During the school year in which an existing school converts to a charter school, the conversion charter school may limit admission to those students who were enrolled in the charter school on the date of the conversion and to their siblings.

Finally, a charter school may give enrollment preference to children of the charter school's founders, governing body members and charter school employees, as long as the enrollment preference is not given to more than 10% of the school's total population.

Citations: Ind. Code Ann. § 20-24-5-5
Iowa Yes. Enrollment priority must be given to siblings of students already enrolled in the charter school. Schools may give preference to particular ranges of ages, grades, or any other basis that would be legal if initiated by a school district.

Citations: Iowa Code Ann. § 256F.4
Kansas No. However, each charter application must specify criteria for admission of pupils, including a description of the lottery method to be used if too many pupils seek enrollment in the school.

Citations: Kan. Stat. Ann. § 72-4208
Kentucky Yes. Enrollment preference may be given to:
  • Students enrolled in the public charter school the previous year and to siblings of students already enrolled. An enrollment preference for returning students excludes those students from entering into a lottery.
  • The children of the public charter school's board of directors and full-time employees provided they constitute no more than 10% of the total student population.
  • Students who meet federal eligibility requirements for free or reduced-price meals.
  • Students who attend persistently low-achieving non-charter public schools.
For a conversion charter school, preference is required to be given to students who attended the school the previous school year. If the number of students enrolled does not exceed capacity, secondary preference is to be given to students who reside within the district boundary in which the charter school is located.

A regional achievement academy may only enroll students who reside within the boundaries of its regional achievement zone. However, enrollment preference may be given to students who reside within the boundaries of the local school district where the regional achievement academy is located.

Citations: Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 160.1591
Louisiana Yes. State law specifies the minimum and/or maximum percentage of economically-disadvantaged pupils and students with exceptionalities (not including gifted and talented) that make up student membership for each type of charter school. For a conversion charter school, pupils enrolled in the preexisting school must be given preference. Charter schools may give preference to students previously enrolled in the school and their siblings, to children of the school's faculty, to a child of a foreign consular (if focus of school is foreign immersion) and to pupils who are dependent children of military personnel. Preference may be given to dependent children of permanent employees of a corporate partner. Up to 50% of the school's maximum enrollment may be reserved for the enrollment of such children.

Elementary and middle charter schools may also give preference to students from the schools' immediate neighborhood if the given permission by the authorizer.

Citations: La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:3991; La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 17:3991.1
Maine Yes. Charter schools must give preference to former students and their siblings and may give preference to children of the school's founding members, governing board members, and full-time employees, but only up to 10% of enrollment. Conversion charter schools must also adopt a policy that gives preference to students residing in the school's former attendance area.

Citations: Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. 20-A § 2404
Maryland Yes. A public charter school may give greater weight to a student's lottery status if the student is:
  • Eligible for free or reduced price meals.
  • A student with disabilities.
  • A student with limited English proficiency.
  • Homeless, as defined under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
  • A sibling of a student currently enrolled in the public charter school for which the sibling is applying.
A public charter school also may give priority to the sibling of a student admitted through the lottery process or a currently enrolled student for any spaces that become available throughout the school year.

A public charter school may propose a geographic attendance area with a median income that is equal to or less than the median income of the county for the public charter school. If so, it may provide guaranteed placement through a lottery to students who live within the geographic attendance area for up to 35%, as proposed by the public charter school and approved by the public chartering authority, of the available space of the public charter school.

A school may also provide guaranteed placement through a lottery to up to 35%, as proposed in its proposal/contract, of the available space to students who attended a public charter school during the previous school year that is operated by the same operator.

Citations: Md. Code Ann., Educ. § 9-102.2
Massachusetts Yes. Preference for enrollment is given to students already attending and their siblings. Preference for enrollment in a commonwealth charter school must be given to students who reside in the city or town in which the charter school is located. Priority for enrollment in a Horace Mann charter school must be given first to students actually enrolled in the school on the date that the application is filed with the state board and to their siblings; second, to other students enrolled in the public schools of the district where the Horace Mann charter school is to be located; and third, to other resident students. A regional charter school is exempt from local preference provision (enrolled in the district).

In addition, the recruitment and retention plan of charter schools approved are required to include a detailed description of deliberate, specific strategies the charter school shall use to attract, enroll and retain a student population that, when compared to students in similar grades in schools from which the charter school shall enroll students, contains a comparable or greater percentage of special education students or students who are limited English-proficient of similar language proficiency as measured by the Massachusetts English Proficiency Assessment examination and 2 or more of the following categories:
  • Students eligible for free lunch,
  • Students eligible for reduced price lunch; students who are sub-proficient, those students who have scored in the ''needs improvement'', ''warning'' or ''failing'' categories on the mathematics or English language arts exams of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System for 2 of the past 3 years or as defined by the department using a similar measurement.
  • Students who are determined to be at risk of dropping out of school based on predictors determined by the department.
  • Students who have dropped out of school.
  • Other at-risk students who should be targeted in order to eliminate achievement gaps among different groups of students.


Citations: Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 71 § 89
Michigan Yes. Preference may be given to students enrolled in a charter school in prior years and their siblings, a child of a charter school employee or board or directors member, or a student transferring from another public school with a matriculation agreement if the student meets certain criteria. Cyber charters are open to any student in the state, but enrollment is limited to 2,500 in the first year of operation, 5,000 in the second year, and 10,000 in subsequent years.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.503; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.504; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.552
Minnesota Yes. Charter schools, including a charter school's preschool or prekindergarten program, may limit admissions to a specific geographic area in which the school is located when the majority of students served by the school are members of underserved populations. A charter school must give preference for enrollment to a sibling of an enrolled pupil or a foster child of that pupil's parents, and the school may give preference to children of school staff before accepting other pupils by lottery. Charter schools that admit students in grades K-6 located in certain counties must give enrollment preference to students living within a 5-mile radius of the school and siblings of enrolled students. Finally, charter schools may be give kindergarten enrollment preference to students currently enrolled in the school's free preschool program.

Citations: Minn. Stat. Ann. § 124E.11
Mississippi Yes. Charter schools must give priority to the following:
  • Students enrolled in the previous year.
  • Siblings of students enrolled in the previous year.
  • Underserved students, defined as students eligible for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program, eligible for at risk funding, or students with special education needs.
  • Conversion charter schools must give enrollment preference to students who live in the school's former attendance area.
Charters may give preference to children of the charter school's applicants, governing board members, and employees, up to 10% of school enrollment. If student applications exceed capacity, charter schools must use a lottery system.

The composition of underserved students in a charter school must reflect that of the school district in which the charter school is located, defined as at least 80% of the school district's population of underserved students.

Attendance at charter schools must be open to all students living in the boundaries of school district in which the charter school is located, and to students living in a school district rated a C or lower at the time the charter school was approved or at the time the student enrolls in the charter school.

Citations: Miss. Code Ann. § 37-28-5, § 37-28-23
Missouri

Yes. Charter schools must enroll the following students:

  • Students that live in the district in which the charter school operates.
  • Nonresident students eligible to attend the school district in which the charter school is located under an urban voluntary transfer program.
  • Nonresident students transferring from an unaccredited school district.
  • For charter schools with a mission of student dropout prevention or recovery, nonresident students from the county or an adjacent county if the students resides in a residential care facility, a transitional living group home, or an independent living program if the student was previously enrolled in the school district in which the charter school is located.
  • For workplace charter schools, otherwise eligible students whose parent is employed in the business district, unless the number of applications exceeds the capacity of a program, class, grade level, or building.

If applications exceed capacity, charter schools must have an admissions process that assures all applicants an equal change of admission. In these circumstances, schools may do the following:

  • Establish a geographical area around the school whose residents will receive a enrollment preference if the preferences do not create racially or socioeconomically isolated schools and they conform to the state board of education's policies.
  • Give enrollment preference to siblings of currently-enrolled students.
  • Given enrollment preference to children of school employees.
  • Give a preference for admission to high-risk students when the school targets these students through its proposed mission, curriculum, teaching methods, and services
  • Give a preference to students who will be eligible for the free and reduced price lunch program in the upcoming school year


Citations: Mo. Ann. Stat. § 160.410
Nevada Yes. Charter schools must enroll the following students:
  • Students that live in the district in which the charter school operates.
  • Nonresident students eligible to attend the school district in which the charter school is located under an urban voluntary transfer program.
  • Nonresident students transferring from an unaccredited school district.
  • For charter schools with a mission of student dropout prevention or recovery, nonresident students from the county or an adjacent county if the student resides in a residential care facility, a transitional living group home, or an independent living program if the student was previously enrolled in the school district in which the charter school is located.
  • For workplace charter schools, otherwise eligible students whose parent is employed in the business district, unless the number of applications exceeds the capacity of a program, class, grade level, or building.
If applications exceed capacity, charter schools must have an admissions process that assures all applicants an equal chance of admission. In these circumstances, schools may do the following:
  • Establish a geographical area around the school whose residents will receive a enrollment preference if the preferences do not create racially or socioeconomically isolated schools and they conform to the state board of education's policies.
  • Give enrollment preference to siblings of currently-enrolled students.
  • Given enrollment preference to children of school employees.
  • Give a preference for admission to high-risk students when the school targets these students through its proposed mission, curriculum, teaching methods, and services
  • Give a preference to students who will be eligible for the free and reduced price lunch program in the upcoming school year.


Citations: Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 388A.450; Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 388A.453; Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 388A.456; Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. 388A.459
New Hampshire Yes. Students who are residents of the school district in which the charter school is located must be given enrollment priority over nonresident students. If applications exceed capacity, the school district must use a lottery system for enrollment.

Citations: N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann§ 194-B:2, N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann§ 194-B:9
New Jersey Yes. A charter school must give preference to students who reside in the school district where the charter school is located. Once capacity is reached, the school must use a lottery system to enroll students.

A charter school may give enrollment priority to a siblings of enrolled students. The charter school's admission policy must seek to enroll a cross section of the community's school age population, as practical.

Citations: N.J. Stat. Ann. § 18A:36A-8
New Mexico Yes. Start-up charter schools must admit students on a first-come, first-served basis. If applications exceed capacity, students are admitted by lottery. Schools must give enrollment preference to returning students and siblings of returning or admitted students.

Citations: N. M. Stat. Ann. § 22-8B-4.1
New York Yes. When applications exceed space, charter schools must conduct a lottery and give enrollment preference to returning students, their siblings, and students residing in the school district in which the charter school is located. Schools may give preference to children of school or charter management organization employees, up to 15% of total enrollment. Charters issued under a request for proposals from the board of regents or State University of New York must meet or exceed enrollment and retention targets for students with disabilities, English language learners (ELLs) and students eligible for free or reduced price lunch.

The targets, as developed by the board of regents and the State University of New York, must be: 1) comparable to the enrollment figures of the same student categories attending the public schools within the school district, and 2) comparable to the retention rates for the same student categories attending the public schools within the school district.

Citations: N.Y. Educ. Law § 2852, N.Y. Educ. Law § 2854
North Carolina Yes. The school may give priority to the following:
  • Siblings of enrolled students, including half siblings, stepsiblings and children residing in a family foster home.
  • Siblings of students who have completed the highest grade level offered by that school and who were enrolled in at least four grade levels, or if less than four grade levels are offered, in the maximum number of grades offered.
  • Children of full-time employees and children of the board of directors, up to 15% of total enrollment.
  • A student who was enrolled within the past two years but left to study abroad or because of vocational opportunities of the student's parent.
  • A student enrolled in another charter school in the state in the previous school year if the school does not offer the student's next grade level.
  • A student enrolled in another charter school in the state during the previous school year that does not offer the student's grade level if the schools have an enrollment articulation agreement or are governed by the same board of directors.
  • A student who was enrolled in another charter in the state in the previous school year.
Once applications exceed capacity, admission is by lottery. Schools may use a weighted lottery if it has been approved by the state board of education.

Citations: N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 115C-218.45
Ohio Yes. If applications excelled capacity, the charter school must hold a lottery and must give preference to previously-enrolled students and students who reside in the school district in which the school is located. The school may give preference siblings of students who attended the school the previous year. The school may give preference to children of staff, if the total number of such students is less than 5% of the school's enrollment.

Each charter school must adopt an admission policy for students residing outside of the school district in which the charter school is located. The policy must do one of the following:
  • Enroll only students residing in the school district in which the charter school is located.
  • Allow students residing in adjacent school districts to enroll.
  • Allow students residing in any school district in the state to enroll.
Finally, a charter school's contract must specify the ways by which the school will achieve racial and ethnic balance reflective of the community that the charter school serves, and charter schools must comply with any desegregation order in effect.

Citations: Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3314.03, 3314.06
Oklahoma Yes. Charter schools must give preference to students residing in the district where the charter school is located and eligible students who attend a school in the district designated as "in need of improvement." (This does not apply to schools authorized by the state board of education.) If applications exceed school capacity, the school must hold an enrollment lottery.

A charter school may also designate a specific geographic area within the school district in which the charter school is located as an academic enterprise zone and may limit admissions to students who reside within that area. An academic enterprise zone is a geographic area in which 60% or more of the children who reside in the area qualify for the free or reduced school lunch program.

A charter school must enroll students who live in the attendance area of a school or in a school district that is under a court desegregation order or party to an agreement with the Office for Civil Rights unless it would violate the resident district's court order or agreement. (This does not apply to schools authorized by the state board of education.)

Citations: Okla. Stat. tit. 70, § 3-140
Oregon Yes. All children who reside in the school district in which the charter school is located are eligible for enrollment, subject to space available. After a charter school has been in operation for one or more years, the charter school may give admissions priority to previously enrolled students and their siblings. Charter schools may also give priority enrollment to students that attended a closed traditional school in certain and reside in the attendance boundaries in the following circumstances:
  • The charter school began operations two years or less after the traditional school closed.
  • The school district that closed the school sponsors the charter school.
  • The charter school is physically located within the attendance boundaries of the closed school.
  • The school district board approves the priority enrollment at the charter school.
Charter schools must hold an equitable lottery process if applications exceed capacity. Schools may hold a weighted lottery favoring historically underserved students including the following factors: race, ethnicity, English language proficiency, socioeconomic status, gender, disability, geographic location, and sexual orientation. The weighted lottery provision expires in the 2020-2021 school year.

Citations: Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 338.125
Pennsylvania Yes. First preference is given to students who reside in the district or districts. A charter school may give preference in enrollment to a child of a parent who has actively participated in the development of the charter school and to siblings of students presently enrolled in the charter school. If there are more applications than space available, the school must select students on a random basis. A charter school must comply with the school district's desegregation order.

Citations: 24 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 17-1723-A
Rhode Island No. However, all types of charter schools must allow students from other districts to transfer to the school, space permitting. If applications exceed available space, the school must hold a lottery. Mayoral academies must enroll students from more than one city or town. Also, at least one-half of the total number of charter public schools must be reserved for charter school applications that are designed to increase educational opportunities for at-risk pupils.

Citations: R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 16-77-6.1 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 16-77.2-1 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 16-77.3-1 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 16-77.4-1 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 16-77-3.1
South Carolina Yes. A charter school may give enrollment priority to a previously enrolled pupil and siblings of an enrolled or previously enrolled pupil. A charter school may give enrollment priority of children of charter school employees and the charter committee, up to 20% of the charter school enrollment. A charter school must give priority to in-district children versus out-of-district children, and the out-of-district enrollment must not exceed 20% of the total enrollment of the charter school without the approval of the sponsoring local school board and the sending local school board. A conversion charter school must give enrollment priority to students enrolled in the school at the time of conversion.

If applications exceed capacity, the school must hold a lottery. In schools designated as an alternative education campus serving educationally disadvantaged students, the school must hold a weighted lottery. The state law requires that the racial composition of a charter school's enrollment reflect that of the school district or of the targeted student population which the charter school proposes to serve, differing by no more than 20% from that population. A charter school may not conflict with any school district desegregation plan or order in effect.

A charter school located on a military base may give priority to students who are dependents of military personnel living on or stationed at the base, up to 50% of charter school enrollment.

Citations: S.C. Code Ann. § 59-40-50; S.C. Code Ann. § 59-40-145; S.C. Code Ann. §59-40-100; S.C. Code Ann. § 59-40-60; 59-40-70
Tennessee Yes.

New Charter Schools: New, or start-up, charter schools give enrollment priority to previously enrolled students. If applications exceed capacity, charter schools must hold a lottery. If the school holds a lottery, the school must and give enrollment preference to the following groups in this order:
  • Students attending a sponsored pre-K program operated by the charter school authorizer.
  • Students attending another charter school with an articulation agreement approved by the authorizer.
  • Siblings of previously enrolled students.
  • Children residing within the LEA service area in which the public charter school is located and who attended another public school during the previous school year.
  • Students residing outside of the school district in which the Schools may give enrollment preference to children of teachers, sponsors, or members of the governing board, up to 10% of total enrollment or 25 students (whichever is less).

Conversion Charter Schools: Schools converted into a charter school must give priority enrollment to students who live in the former attendance area of the school. Students living in other school zones may enroll in a conversion charter school only after students living in the attendance area have an opportunity to enroll, but only if there is program, class, grade level, and building capacity to serve the students. If applications exceed capacity, schools must hold a lottery and give preference to out-of-zone students who attended in the previous school year and their siblings.

Achievement School District: Charter schools authorized by the achievement school district must enroll students zoned to attend or currently enrolled in a school eligible to be placed in the achievement school district. If space is still available, the school may enroll additional students residing within the boundaries of the local education agency as long as enrollment of such students does not exceed 25% of total enrollment.

Citations: Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-13-106; Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-13-113
Texas Yes. Open-enrollment charter schools must hold a lottery if the number of applications exceed capacity. Open-enrollment charter schools that are operated by a municipality may give preference to children of employees of the municipality before holding a lottery for the remaining positions, as long as the number of enrolled employees' children constitutes a small percentage of enrollment. Open-enrollment charter schools are required to maintain a waitlist of students who applied using the common admission application form.

Campus charter schools, which are approved by a school district, must give preference to students based on geographic and residency limitations, and the schools may give secondary consideration to a student's age, grade level, or academic credentials in general or in a specific area, as necessary for the type of program offered.

School district charter schools must follow the state's student admission policies for school districts.

Citations: Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 12.117; Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 12.1173; Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 12.065; Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 12.013
Utah Yes. All students in the state qualify for admission to a charter school, subject to limitations. If enrollment exceeds capacity, the school must hold a lottery. Charter schools must give preference to:
  • Students who reside within a 2 mile radius from the school if the school is in a high-growth area and was given priority approval status by the state board of education due to its location in a high-growth area.
  • In conversion charter schools, students who would have attended the public school prior to conversion.
Charter schools may give preference to:
  • Students whose parents or grandparents were actively involved in the development of the charter school (founders) or are members of the school governing board.
  • Siblings of currently enrolled students.
  • Students articulating between charter schools offering similar programs that are governed by the same governing board.
  • Students articulating from one charter school to another pursuant to an articulation agreement between the charter schools that is approved by the state charter school board.
  • Students whose parent is employed by the charter school.
  • Students who live within 2 miles of the charter school if the student's school is at capacity.
  • A child of a military servicemember.
  • Schools with an express mission to enhance learning for refugee students or children of refugees may give preference to those children.
  • A charter school whose mission is to enhance learning opportunities for English language learners may give an enrollment preference to English language learners.
A charter school may weight its lottery to give a slightly better chance of admission to educationally disadvantaged students, including:
  • Low-income students.
  • Students with disabilities.
  • English language learners.
  • Migrant students.
  • Neglected or delinquent students.
  • Homeless students.


Citations: U.C.A. 1953 § 53G-6-502
Virginia Yes. Charter school enrollment is available to any student residing in the school district through a lottery process. In regional charter schools, enrollment is available to students in the school districts involved in creating the school. In conversion charter schools, students attending the school and their siblings must be allowed to enroll prior to the lottery process.

Citations: Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-212.6; Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-212.8; Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-26
Washington Yes. Charter schools are open to any student, regardless of location. If applications exceed capacity, the school must first give preference to siblings of students already enrolled in the charter school, then hold a lottery. If approved by the state's charter school commission, the school may offer weighted enrollment preference for at-risk students or children of school.

Citations: Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 28A.710.050
West Virginia Yes. Charter schools are permitted to include a focus on students with special needs including at-risk studetns, English language learners, students with severe disciplinary problems, or students involved in the juvenile justice system.

Charter schools are required to designate their primary recruitment area, which may be in more than one school district, in the charter application and contract, but this does not negate district attendance areas. The primary recruitment area is dependent upon program and facility capacity.

Charter schools are permitted to establish enrollment preferences for children within the primary recruitment area, students enrolled in the school the previous year and siblings of currently enrolled students, students with special needs, and children of governing board members and employees.

Conversion public charter schools are required to guarantee enrollment to all students who were previously enrolled in the public school that was converted to a charter.

Citations: W. Va. Code, § 18-5G-3 W. Va. Code, § 18-5G-11
Wisconsin Yes. Charter schools must hold a lottery if applications exceed capacity, and must give enrollment preference to students who were enrolled in the school in the previous school year and their siblings. Conversion charter schools that replace a public school in whole or in part must give enrollment preference students who reside within the school's attendance area or former attendance area.

Charters may give enrollment preference in the following circumstances:
  • To children of founders, governing board members and full-time employees, up to 10% of total enrollment.
  • Charter schools under contract with a union high school district may give preference to students in specific circumstances.


Citations: Wis. Stat. Ann. § 118.40
Wyoming No, although charter applications must include admission requirements and minimum enrollment requirements.

Citations: Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 21-3-307


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