Charter Schools and the Law: Current Issues in U.S. Courts and Legislatures

Ralph D. Mawdsley, Cleveland State University

On Westlaw/WestlawNext


The past three years have been meaningful ones in the field of charter school law. Several states have adopted changes to their charter school laws, and many have adjudicated disputes involving charter schools in their courtrooms. Although each state charter school law is unique, changes to these laws follow national trends. This paper identifies these trends by examining the significant legislative enactments affecting charter schools during the years 2011–2013 and court decisions during this time period. The literature regarding charter schools has covered many topics since their inception in the early 1990s. Although the initial articles discussed the legality of charter schools, the more recent lines of inquiry have included accountability for charter schools, the application of constitutional principles in charter school settings, legal issues arising with specialty charter schools, and the provision of educational services to all public schools students such *658 as those with disabilities or those who are disadvantaged. Cyber charter school research is a new line of inquiry that is likely to grow as these schools expand nationally. Rather than focusing on one of these specific lines of research, this article examines the recent legislative and case law developments to confirm old trends and identify new ones in the development of charter school law. The legislative changes in charter school laws during the past three years and the significant lawsuits in the four most litigious states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, California, and Texas are discussed. Additionally, a significant lawsuit in Georgia is examined because it struck down part of that state's charter school law.