choice options in oklahoma
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.
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 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 lottery is held. Students are not tested for admission.
Charter schools cannot “limit admission based on ethnicity, national origin, gender, income level, disabling condition, English proficiency, measures of achievement, aptitude, or athletic ability.”
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 many extracurricular activities, including sports.
LINKS and SOURCES
Oklahoma Public Charter School Association - www.okcharters.org
State Department of Education - www.ok.gov/sde/faqs/oklahoma-charter-schools-program
Current Charter Schools of Oklahoma - www.ok.gov/sde/current-charter
Additional source: www.familiesempowered.org
Education Savings Accounts
Legislation to create ESAs in Oklahoma was introduced in 2014 and 2015.
EDUCATIONAL SAVINGS ACCOUNTS (ESA) give families direct control over their child’s share of education funding and allows parents to customize their child’s education.
ESAs 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 is deposited into an account managed by the 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.
Resident of Oklahoma. Student 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 are no longer eligible to participate in the ESA program upon high school graduation or reaching age 21, whichever comes first.
HOW TO APPLY
To enroll, the parent or legal guardian of a qualified student must 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 is renewed annually.
LINKS and SOURCES
“Oklahoma ESA Proposal Ensures Cost Savings for Public School Districts” Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
“The Way of the Future: Education Savings Accounts for Every American Family” Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
In District and Out-of-District 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.
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 the 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.
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.
- 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.
For both in district and out-of-district transfers, parents are responsible for the transportation of their child to and from school.
State Department of Education - www.ok.gov/sde/student-transfers
Tax Credit Scholarships
Tax credit scholarships allow individual taxpayers and businesses to receive Oklahoma state income tax credits for donating to a non-profit, Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO). Contributions to SGOs provide scholarships for eligible students, including low income students, who to attend one of the eligible accredited private schools across Oklahoma that serve pre-K to 12 students.
There are three SGOs in Oklahoma -- the Opportunity Scholarship Fund; the Catholic Schools Opportunity Scholarship Fund, Inc., and Go for Catholic Schools, Inc.
The allowable tax credit is 50% of the amount of contributions made during a taxable year, up to $1,000 for single 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.
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.
Scholarships may be worth up to $6,282, or 80% of the average per-pupil expenditure in the assigned public school district, whichever is greater. For students with special needs who attend a public school with an IEP, the scholarship is worth up to $25,000.
HOW TO APPLY
For each child eligible, complete an application provided by the principal at the school where your child is accepted. Include the first two pages of the family’s most recent federal income tax return, return the completed forms to the private school, if the student is deemed eligible the school will endorse the application and recommended scholarship amount and forward the application for processing.
Opportunity Scholarship Fund - www.osfkids.org
Catholic Schools Opportunity Scholarships - www.cfook.org/scholarship-center/catholic-schools-opportunity-scholarships
Go for Catholic Schools, Inc. - www.GoForCatholicSchools.com
Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship
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 reenroll in and attend a private school.
This scholarship is provided if the child is on an Individualized Education Program (IEP), prior to the request, and has 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.
Parents must formally withdraw their child from the public school district where he/she is enrolled upon receipt of approval for the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship. Failure to withdraw the child from the district may affect eligibility status to receive the scholarship.
How to apply
- The parent must choose an approved private school (see link below).
- The Scholarship Application must be submitted by the parent/guardian to the State Department of Education by mail or fax, with the required documentation, by December 1 of the year that parent/guardian is seeking the scholarship. All applications received after December 1 are processed for the next school year.
- 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 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 mail to the address below, or fax documents to (405) 522-2380
Oklahoma State Department of Education, Special Education Services
Attn: Anita Eccard
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 Anita Eccard at the State Department of Education at (405) 521-4865.
Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship, State Department of Education
List of Approved Private Schools for the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship
Legislation to establish a Parent Trigger law in Oklahoma was introduced in 2012. Seven states have passed parent trigger laws including California, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio and Texas.
The PARENT TRIGGER LAW empowers parents whose children attend a systematically or persistently failing school to circulate a petition calling for transformation options. These options include: bringing in new school leadership, at least 50% new school staff, new school management by converting the school to a charter or use a Parent Trigger campaign as leverage to bargain with school and district leaders for change. If a majority of parents sign a valid petition, school district officials must do what the parents ask.
Reforms must be implemented at the start of the next school year. No more waiting for years for complicated ‘turn around’ or ‘transformations’ to be implemented and begin to show results. To achieve quick results, children are moved to better schools to start learning more – right away.
Parent Revolution - www.parentrevolution.org