Charter Schools

Charter schools are public schools. They are responsive to student needs and held accountable for improved student achievement and financial accountability. Charter schools operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools. In exchange for that flexibility, charters are held accountable not only to the state, but also their charter sponsor and governance board.  

One part of our work: serving the thousands of families waitlisted by public charter schools. Each year, charter schools are forced to waitlist thousands of students, as they are unable to meet the demand. 

Charter schools can be sponsored by local school districts, CareerTechs, universities, federally-recognized Indian tribes, and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Charter schools are public schools and, just like traditional public schools, they too are free to attend.

HOW TO APPLY

Public charter schools are open to all students to enroll.  When applications exceed the school’s capacity, a random public lottery is held to determine offers of admission.  Students are not tested for admission to a public charter school.  

Charter schools cannot “limit admission based on ethnicity, national origin, gender, income level, disabling condition, English proficiency, measures of achievement, aptitude, or athletic ability.”

SPECIAL QUALITIES

Charter schools are given freedom to innovate, choose their own curriculum and create their own discipline systems. Some specialty charter schools focus on areas such as math, fine arts, science or health (see magnet schools).

  • Transportation: Charter schools may or may not provide transportation.

  • Tuition: None, though some charter schools have activity or program fees.

  • Sports & Extracurricular Activities: Many charters offer robust extracurricular activities, including sports. 

LINKS and SOURCES

Oklahoma Public Charter School Association - OKcharters.org

State Department of Education’s Charter School Info - OK.gov/oklahoma-charter-schools-program

Current Oklahoma Charter Schools - OK.gov/current-charter-list


Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship & Grant Program

Equal opportunity education scholarships help fund the cost for eligible students, especially low income students, to attend an accredited private pre-K to 12 school. Individual taxpayers and businesses donate to fund these scholarships and grants to a non-profit Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) to help open education opportunities for students.

For 2018-19, the Scholarship Act allows an eligible student to receive up to $6,900 annually. This is 80% of the statewide annual average expenditure per pupil ($8,624 for the 2015-2016 school year, the latest year reported by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) ). A student’s actual scholarship amount will depend upon a number of factors including a school’s success in raising funds each year. For students with special needs who attend a public school with an IEP, the scholarship is worth up to $25,000.

Student Eligibility

A student must be school age, a legal US resident, live in Oklahoma and be accepted at a participating school for the upcoming school year. 

And, the student must meet ONE of the following three criteria:  1) live in a household with an annual income below 300% of free/reduced lunch eligibility, 2) be eligible to attend a public school identified as “in need of improvement’ by the No Child Left Behind Act, or 3) attended an Oklahoma public school with an individualized education program (IEP). 

Once a student receives a scholarship, the student and his/her siblings remain eligible until high school graduation or age 21.

 

HOW TO APPLY

A scholarship application should be completed for each eligible child and be submitted to the principal of the school where your child is enrolled. If the student is deemed eligible, the school, in accordance with the law, will endorse the application, recommended a scholarship amount and forward the application to the SGO for processing. 

Donor benefits

Donors realize three benefits: Oklahoma state income tax credits, federal charitable contribution deductions and state charitable contribution deductions. The allowable tax credit is 50% of the amount of contributions made during a taxable year, up to $1,000 for individuals, $2,000 for married couples, and $100,000 for corporations.  The program is capped at $5 million, of which $3.5 million is dedicated to private school scholarships with a separate $1.5 million in tax credits available for donations made to organizations that distribute “educational improvement grants” to public schools. 

If donations exceed the statewide cap in a given year, the Oklahoma Tax Commission will allocate the tax credits to individuals (or corporations) on a pro-rata basis.  

 

LINKS

Opportunity Scholarship Fund - OSFkids.org

Archdiocese of Oklahoma City’s Catholic Schools Opportunity Scholarship Fund - ArchOKC.org/tcs 

Diocese of Tulsa’s Go for Catholic Schools Fund - GoForCatholicSchools.com


Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship

for students with disabilities

and

For students in foster care, adopted from foster care or in custody of Juvenile affairs (oja)

Students with Disabilities

The Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship allows the parent or guardian of a public school student with a disability to exercise their parental option and request to have a Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship awarded for their child to enroll and attend a private school for the following school year.

Students qualifying for the scholarship are those on an Individualized Education Program (IEP), prior to the application request, and those who have spent the previous school year in attendance at an Oklahoma public school by being reported by a school district for funding purposes during that year.

Upon receipt of approval for the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship, parents must formally withdraw their child from the public school district where he/she is enrolled. Failure to withdraw the child from the district may affect eligibility status to receive the scholarship.

 

How to apply

  1. The parent must choose an approved private school (click link below).

  2. The Scholarship Application must be submitted by December 1 of the year that parent/guardian is seeking the scholarship (click here for application). The parent/guardian sends the application to the State Department of Education by mail or fax, with the required documentation. All applications received after December 1 are processed for the next school year.

  3. The application process must be completed and submitted to the State Department of Education for each year the parent/guardian chooses to participate in Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship.

To apply for renewal of the scholarship, submit a current Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship application to the State Department of Education in June or July, prior to the beginning of the next academic year.  If the application is received and/or approved after the current school year begins, the scholarship is pro-rated after the date of approval by the State Department of Education. 

If the parent/legal guardian of a child receiving the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship fails to submit a renewal application by December 1 of each year, the scholarship will be terminated.

Send the completed application by fax to (405) 522-2380 or mail it to:

Oklahoma State Department of Education, Special Education Services
Attn: Stacy Eden
2500 N. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

For assistance with scholarship applications or questions about the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship for Students with Disabilities, please contact Stacy Eden at the State Department of Education at (405) 521-4876. 

 

Students in foster care, adopted from foster care and in custody of OJA

In 2017, the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship was expanded to serve foster children, children adopted from foster care and children in custody of the Office of Juvenile Affairs.

Students are eligible if they have an “individualized services plan,” which all foster children are supposed to receive within 30 days of being removed from home. 

LINKS

Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship, State Department of Education - OK.gov/lindsey-nicole-henry-scholarship-program

List of Approved Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Private Schools - OK.gov/lindsey-nicole-henry-scholarship-approved-schools-list

Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Application - OK.gov/LNH-Application

Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Snapshot - EDchoice.org/LNH-scholarship


In-District, Out-of-District and Emergency Transfers

In-District Transfers

In-District transfers allow parents, who reside in a school district, to apply to have their child attend any of the schools within the school district. Approval depends on space available and according to the enrollment procedures for each school district.  District policies, timelines and procedures are available on each school district’s website. 

Transfers may be revoked by the school principal if the student’s grades, attendance (absences or tardies), transportation arrangements or behavior reach unacceptable levels.

For In-District transfers, parents are responsible for transporting their child to and from school.  

HOW TO APPLY

In-District transfers are requested by filing a Transfer Request with the school district.  Deadlines vary by district.  Parents are not guaranteed admission to their school of choice.  Parents with multiple children must submit separate Transfer Requests for each child. Transfer requests must be renewed annually.  

  

Out-of-District Or Open Transfers

Out-of-District or Open Transfers allow parents, who reside in a school district, to apply to have their child attend a school outside of the district in which they reside.  Approval depends on space available and according to the enrollment procedures for each school district.  District policies, timelines and procedures are available on each school district’s website. 

For Out-of-District transfers, parents are responsible for transporting their child to and from school.  

HOW TO APPLY

In accordance with Oklahoma State law, parents may apply to transfer their student to a school district other than the one assigned by the location of their residence.  A State Department of Education form is completed and submitted by the following timelines and procedures. Click on the link below to access the form.

  • No later than May 31 of the school year preceding the year the transfer is desired, parent/guardian may file an Open Transfer application to the Receiving District.

  • No later than May 31 of the same year, the Receiving District must notify the resident district that a transfer application has been filed, and notification is via the Receiving District entering applications in the Wave online no later than May 31.

  • No later than July 15, the Receiving District’s board of education shall approve or deny Open Transfer applications, verified by entering the decision in the Wave online, and must notify the parent/guardian of their transfer decision.

  • No later than August 1, a parent/guardian who was notified of an approved Open transfer shall provide written notice to the Receiving District that their child/student will be enrolling in the receiving district.

Emergency Transfers

Emergency transfers may make or grant by the receiving school district’s Superintendent and the State Board of Education. The reason for the transfer must be noted and, per state law may be granted if the student is the victim of harassment, intimidation and bullying. Click on the link below to access the form required for an Emergency transfer.

HOW TO APPLY

Apply to transfer your student to a school district other than the one assigned by the location of their residence using the form found at the link below.

LINKS

State Department of Education - OK.gov/student-transfers


Education Savings Accounts

Legislation to create Educational Savings Accounts (ESA) in Oklahoma has been introduced, but has not yet become law.  

As proposed, ESAs would give families direct control over their child’s share of education funding and allows parents to customize their child’s education to meet their student’s unique needs and gifts.

As proposed, ESAs would allow parents to withdraw their children from public schools and receive a portion of their public funding for defined educational uses, which may include private school tuition, online education, textbooks, tutoring, college admissions tests or college tuition and fees for concurrent enrollment.  

ESA money would be deposited into an account managed by the Oklahoma State Treasurer, and dispersed to parents on a debit card from which qualified educational expenses are paid.  Parents can roll unused funds into a college savings account.

 

QUALIFICATIONS

Resident of Oklahoma.  As proposed, to participate a student would be enrolled in Oklahoma public school full time for the first 100 days of the prior school year, eligible for pre-kindergarten or a child with a parent serving in active duty in the US military.  

Students would no longer be eligible to participate in the ESA program upon high school graduation or reaching age 21, whichever comes first.

 

HOW TO APPLY

As proposed, to enroll, the parent or legal guardian of a qualified student would be required to sign an agreement form with the Office of the State Treasurer. The parent agrees to: use the ESA scholarship card only for qualified expenditures, not enroll the qualified student in a resident district, not accept a scholarship from the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program for students with disabilities, release the resident district from all obligations to educate the student and not use the ESA funds for computer hardware or technologic devices, transportation of the student or consumable education supplies.

Application to participate in the ESA program was proposed to renewed annually.

 

LINKS and SOURCES

“Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts are a Model for School Choice”  Heritage Foundation

Heritage.org/Arizona-empowerment-scholarship

“The Way of the Future: Education Savings Accounts for Every American Family”  Ed Choice

EdChoice.org/education-savings-account


Hope Scholarship

Families with children who are victims of violence and bullying in schools should have a way out of that danger. All kids should thrive and learn in a safe environment. Legislation to create the Hope Scholarship was authored and introduced by Senator Rob Standridge to provide scholarships to a private school of choice for students who are in at-risk situations and victims of physical or psychological violence and bullying in public schools.

As proposed, the State Department of Education would be directed by the measure to calculate the total costs of the program and reserve the total amount appropriated to the State Board of Education for state aid purposes and any other revenue available for allocation for state aid purposes the total cost for all scholarship payments. Scholarship awards will be based on the student’s equivalent impact on the state aid formula. The Department may retain 2.5% of the amount awarded to administer the program. The Department is further directed to monitor private school participation in the program and revoke a private school’s participation in the program if it fails to comply with the provisions of the measure. The measure provides for an appeals process.

QUALIFICATIONS

SB570, as proposed, would have become effective one year after passage. Parents requesting the scholarship would be required to provide documentation factually certifying that a student experienced bullying or harassment incidents at least three times in a single school year. Eligible students must also have attended a public school and have acceptance of admission from the private school. Parents must assume full financial responsibility for the education of the student.

School districts must notify each parent with a student enrolled in the district about the program. Private schools must receive approval from the State Department of Education to participate in the program and must provide evidence of the district’s adherence to accreditation standards, fiscal soundness and employment of properly certified teachers. Students participating in the program must adhere to various requirements outlined in the measure.

LINKS

Florida’s Hope Scholarship Program - FLdoe.org/Hope-Scholarship