For more information on Texas charter schools, including their state evaluations, visit TEA's website.
Although charter school employees are public employees, they are not entitled to all of the same legal protections as employees of Texas public school districts. These include contracts, state leave and class-size limits. However, charter school employees are protected by state immunity laws and limitations on liability, and they are required to participate in the Teacher Retirement System. REMINDER: In Districts of Innovation, depending on the district’s specific plan, teachers may be limited to the same rights and benefits as charter school employees.
Recent changes in law specify that open-enrollment charter school employees are considered public employees with regard to the law that prohibits public employees from striking or entering into a collective bargaining agreement. This change also encompasses the statute allowing public employees to file a grievance regarding wages, hours and conditions of work.
State law does not require charter school teachers and principals to be certified, except in the case of teachers assigned to teach in special education or bilingual programs, in which case the appropriate state certification is required by federal law. State law does require open-enrollment charter school teachers and principals to have a baccalaureate degree. Charter schools must perform criminal history checks on prospective employees and volunteers. HB 3, passed in 2019, included a provision subjecting open-enrollment charters to the Whistleblower Act and makes them subject to the do-not-hire registry.
All charter schools are required to administer the state assessments and are part of the state accountability system, though many are part of the alternative accountability system.
Charter schools are required to, once during each school day, recite the Pledges of Allegiance to the U.S. and Texas flags. This must be followed by a moment of silence.
Changes made in the 2021 legislative session clarified that uncertified teachers, including charter school teachers, are eligible to earn designations under the teacher incentive allotment and charters can earn allotment funding for employing teachers with TIA designations.
The commissioner of education may grant a charter for an open-enrollment charter school to an eligible entity: an institution of higher education; a private or independent institution of higher education; a 501(c)(3) organization; or a governmental entity. The initial term of a charter is five years. The commissioner has authority over monitoring and revoking charters.
Currently, the total number of charters that may be granted in Texas is 305. (There is no limit on the number of charter campuses that can be approved under a granted charter.) Also, an unlimited number of charters can be granted to institutions of higher learning, including junior or community colleges; dropout recovery schools; or detention, correctional or residential facilities established for juvenile offenders.
SB 11, passed in 2019, provides that open-enrollment charter schools are subject to the provisions of the omnibus school safety bill.
Under a 2017 law, districts can form a partnership with a charter school to provide services to or operate a campus, including as an alternative to intervention under the state accountability statutes. Campus employees must be consulted regarding provisions to be included in the contract between the district and the charter school. If you have any questions or want more information about these partnerships, please call the TCTA Legal Department.