Charter Schools 101

The questions and answers below are provided by the Public Charter School Alliance of SC (PCSASC), a partner in education with LLCS, and apply to all South Carolina charter schools.  For more LLCS specific questions and answers, please refer to LLCS FAQ's page.  

Q: What is a charter school?

A: Charter schools are PUBLIC and TUITION-FREE schools allowed the freedom to be more innovative with greater autonomy while being held accountable for improving student achievement.

Q: How many students attend public charter schools in South Carolina?

A: In 2021, there are nearly 50,000 students enrolled in South Carolina's 88 public charter schools.  

Q: Is there any type of test or exam to get into a charter school?

A: No, entrance exams are not allowed for admission to any public charter school in South Carolina. By law, charter schools must have a fair and open admission process, conducting outreach and recruitment to all segments of the community they serve. SC Charter Act requires there be no barriers to entrance. The SC Charter Schools Act requires schools to hold a lottery if there are more applications than open slots. Public charter schools are nondiscriminatory in admission and employment practices.

Q: How many "for profit" charter schools are there?

A: ZERO. Public charter schools must be nonprofit corporations governed by a board of directors and follow state ethics laws. Public charter schools, just like district run schools, purchase goods and contract for services based on the needs of their students. All of SC's Public Charter Schools must submit an annual audit to their sponsor and the SCDE and must file 990's with the IRS.

Q: Can a public charter school charge an enrollment fee?

A: No. Public charter schools cannot charge an enrollment fee. The essence of charter schools is that they offer an education of all children from all walks of life. Mandating an enrollment fee has the potential to exclude certain families, thus setting barriers for acceptance/enrollment.

Q: Can public charter schools hire non-certified teachers?

A: Charter schools may hire up to 25% of non-certified faculty, however these teachers must still meet the highly qualified standards of the federal requirements in the content area. Many of the non-certified teachers are university professors, professionals with critical career expertise, or teachers certified in other states.

Q: Which classes require a public charter school teacher to be Highly Qualified?

A: The purpose of ESEA Title II, Part A is to help states and school districts ensure that all students have effective teachers; that is, teachers with the subject-matter knowledge and teaching skills necessary to help all children achieve to high academic standards, regardless of individual learning styles or needs. In this regard, the program provides substantial funding to help states and districts recruit, train, reward, and retain effective teachers. Title II, Part A and Title I, Part A also place particular emphasis on the need for states and districts to ensure that teachers of core academic subjects meet certain minimum requirements to become effective educators. The criteria to be considered highly qualified are that teachers hold at least a bachelor's degree, be fully licensed by the state for their teaching assignment, and demonstrate content knowledge in each subject they teach. By the end of the 2005-06 school years, one hundred percent of core academic teachers were mandated to meet the requirements.

Quick Facts about South Carolina's Highly Qualified Teacher Requirements (315 KB PDF)

Q: Who is eligible to attend 5K programs?

A: Attendance is mandatory and compulsory for five-year-olds. State law states, "students may enter kindergarten in the public schools of this State if they will attain the age of five on or before September 1st of the applicable school year."

Q: What is the age requirement for First Grade?

A: Students may enter 1st grade in the public schools if they will attain the age of six on or before September 1st of the applicable school year.