Charter Schools: State Profile

Charter Schools: State Profile - Michigan

January 2020


Charter School Basics 2020
Does the state have a charter school law? Yes. Charter schools are called public school academies. Authorizing bodies
determine the length of terms for a charter school and for a school's
governing body.

State law has added 3 additional categories of charter schools:
  • Urban High School Academies.
  • Schools of Excellence, which include cyber charter schools and public
    school academies that have met certain academic standards and converted to
    schools of excellence.
  • Strict Discipline Academies.

Also, the board of a school district may grant a charter to an eligible entity for a chartered educational clinic. The application requirements and procedures for such a contract for a chartered educational clinic are the same as for a contract for another public school academy. A chartered educational clinic is a specialty public school academy and may only serve public school pupils during hours outside the pupil's normal class hours by providing special assistance for up to 3 hours per week, pursuant to a written prescription by the principal of the public school. Chartered educational clinics may only serve pupils enrolled in grades K-12 who are in educational difficulty, or at risk of falling seriously behind other pupils of their age level, of not being advanced in grade level, or of dropping out or being expelled from school.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.501 et seq.; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.501; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.507; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.505a; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. §380.1311g; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.522; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.552

Does the state allow existing public schools to convert to charter schools? No. However, If a public school academy meets the requirements related to performance and has the approval of its authorizing body, the board of directors of the public school academy may adopt a resolution choosing to convert the public school academy to a school of excellence. As a type of charter school, schools of excellence operate under charter contracts and other rules of charter schools.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.502a

Does the state have any caps on the number of charter schools? No.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.502

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

Does the state specify who must provide transportation to charter school students? No
Charter School Applications 2020
Who may apply to open a charter school? One or more persons or an entity may apply for a charter.

Entity is defined as a partnership, nonprofit or business corporation, labor organization, or any other association, corporation, trust, or other legal entity.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.502; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.501

Does the state specify the types of charter schools that may be given approval preference? Yes. Priority may be given to applications that would replace charter schools closed due to poor performance.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.503

Does state law explicitly state that charter school operators or management companies be for-profit or not-for-profit organizations? No. Educational management organizations are defined as an entity that enters into a management agreement with a public school academy; and entity is defined as a partnership, nonprofit or business corporation, or any other association, corporation, trust, or other legal entity.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.503c

Does the state have provisions specific to high-performing charter schools, including replication of high-performing charter schools? No.
Charter School Authorizing 2020
What organizations may authorize charter schools, and is there a statewide authorizing body? The following organizations may authorize charter schools:
  • Local school boards,
  • Intermediate school boards,
  • Community colleges or state public universities, or
  • Two or more local education agencies operating under an interlocal agreement
A statewide authorizing body is defined as the governing board of a state public university or the board of a federal tribally controlled community college that is recognized under the tribally controlled colleges and universities assistance act and meets the requirements for accreditation by a recognized regional accrediting body. The University authorizers have the ability to issue charters anywhere in the state.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.501; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.502; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.552

Is there an appeals process for charter applicants? Yes. If an application to a local school board is rejected, the applicant may petition (with signatures of at least 5% of the electors of the district) to have it placed on a local ballot. If the ballot measure passes, the board must approve the application.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws § 380.503

Does the state require the authorizer to report on the performance of its portfolio of schools? No. However, a charter school's board of directors must publicly disclose all of the information that schools districts are required to disclose by law, including the annual report educational management organizations are required to provide to the local board of directors.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws § 380.503c

Are there sanctions in place for authorizers? Yes. If the state superintendent finds that an authorizing body is not engaging in appropriate continuing oversight of 1 or more public school academies operating under a contract issued by the authorizing body, the superintendent of public instruction may suspend the power of the authorizing body to issue new contracts to organize and operate public school academies.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.502

Charter School Autonomy and Accountability 2020
What rules are waived for charter schools? A public school academy is required to comply with all applicable law, including all of the following:
  • The open meetings act.
  • The freedom of information act.
  • Rights of public employees.
  • Labor disputes and Employee Relations.
  • Desegregation.
  • Laws concerning participation in state assessments, data collection systems, state level student growth models, state accountability and accreditation systems and other comparative data collection required of other public schools.
  • Miscellaneous other laws.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.503

Does the state specify grounds for terminating or not renewing a school’s charter? Yes. Procedures and grounds for revoking a contract must be outlined in the school's charter. These grounds also include:
  • Failure of the public school academy to demonstrate improved pupil academic achievement for all groups of pupils or meet the educational goals set forth in the contract
  • Failure of the public school academy to comply with all applicable law
  • Failure of the public school academy to meet generally accepted public sector accounting principles and demonstrate sound fiscal stewardship
  • The existence of 1 or more other grounds for revocation as specified in the contract.

Standards for renewal are required to include increases in academic achievement for all groups of pupils as measured by assessments and other objective criteria as the most important factor in the decision of whether or not to renew the contract.

In addition, except for alternative schools that are serving a special population, a charter school's contract will be revoked at the end of a school year if the charter school has been among the lowest achieving public schools in the statefor the last 3 consecutive years, and the school has been operating for at least 4 years. Closure would occur at the end of the current school year. Unless prohibited by statute, an authorizing body may consider and take corrective measures to avoid contract revocation. An authorizing body may reconstitute the public school academy in a final attempt to improve student educational performance or to avoid interruptions of the educational process.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.507; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.503

Does state policy include provisions for charter school closures? Yes. If the authorizing body revokes a contract, it must work with a school district or another public school, or a combination of these entities, to ensure a smooth transition for students. If the revocation happens during the school year, the authorizing body must return any school aid funds it holds, that are attributable to the affected students, to the state treasurer for deposit into the state school aid fund. The state treasurer must distribute funds to the public school that the affected students enroll in following revocation according to a method to be established by the department of education and the Center for Educational Performance and Information.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.507

Charter School Funding 2020
How is the funding for a charter school determined? Charter schools receive a base per-pupil funding equal to that of the district in which the school is located, or the state maximum charter school allocation, whichever is less. State law requires intermediate school districts to share regional enhancement property tax proceeds with charter schools. Charter schools may access state and federal grants in the same manner as local school districts.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Law Ann. § 388.504a; Mich. Comp. Law Ann. § 388.1620; Mich. Comp. Law Ann. § 388.705

Who provides charter schools with their funding? Not specified
Does the state provide start-up or planning grants to new charter schools? No
What kind of facilities funding is available to charter schools? Direct funding:
Revenue from taxes levied or bonds issued by a school district may be used to support the operation or facilities of a charter school operated by the school district. Property occupied by a charter school and used exclusively for educational purposes is exempt from some real and personal property taxes. Charter schools may be located in all or part of an existing public school building.

Other funding:
Charter schools have access to tax-exempt financing through the Michigan Public Education Facilities Authority to finance land acquisitions, facilities, equipment and energy conservation improvements, or to refinance existing debt.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Law Ann. § 380.503a; Mich. Comp. Law Ann. § 380.504

Charter School Teachers 2020
Do teachers in a charter school have to be certified? Yes. Special exemptions are made for a charter school operated by a state college or university that may wish to use collegiate staff to teach charter school students.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws § 380.505

Does the state require school districts to grant teachers a leave of absence to teach in a charter school? No
Virtual Charter Schools 2020
Does state law explicitly allow virtual charter schools? Yes. Cyber charter schools are classified as "schools of excellence." Cyber charter schools are issued a contract to be organized and operated as a cyber school that provides full-time instruction to pupils through online learning or otherwise on a computer or other technology, which instruction and learning may be remote from a school facility.

An authorizing body may issue a contract to establish a school of excellence that is a cyber school.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.551; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.553a

Is there a statewide authorizer specific for virtual charter schools? No. Statute does make reference to statewide authorizing bodies (defined as the governing board of a state public university or the board of a recognized federal tribally controlled community college) regarding cyber charter schools, but also establishes that the following are able to issue contracts to establish cyber charter schools: the board of a school district, an intermediate school board, the board of a community college, and 2 or more public agencies acting jointly.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.553a; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.552

Does the state set enrollment limits for virtual charter schools? Yes. The enrollment in the school of excellence that is a cyber school is limited to not more than 2,500 pupils in membership for the first school year of operation, not more than 5,000 for the second school year of operation, and not more than 10,000 for the third and subsequent school years of operation of the school of excellence that is a cyber school.

The combined total number of contracts issued by all statewide authorizing bodies for schools of excellence that are cyber schools is not allowed to exceed 15. The board of a school district, an intermediate school board, the board of a community college that is not a statewide authorizing body, or 2 or more public agencies acting jointly may not act as the authorizing body for more than 1 school of excellence that is a cyber school.

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.552

Is there additional oversight specific to virtual charter schools? Yes. For instance, the issuance of the contract must be approved by the superintendent of public instruction. Cyber charters are required to issue annual reports on costs associated with online schooling. Additional documentation is required (above what is required for public school academies).

Citations: Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.552; Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 380.551


© 2020 by the Education Commission of the States (ECS). All rights reserved. ECS is the only nationwide, nonpartisan interstate compact devoted to education. 700 Broadway #810, Denver, CO 80203-3442

To request permission to excerpt part of this publication, either in print or electronically, please contact the Education Commission of the States’ Communications Department at 303.299.3636 or mzatynski@ecs.org.

Your Education Policy Team  www.ecs.org