Enrollment FAQ

1 Do your research.


Since charter schools are independently managed, interested families need to contact charter schools individually to find out about their admissions’ process and to apply for your child. You can locate charter school information through our school search. Keep in mind that there may not be a charter school in your area, and if there is, it may not serve your child’s grade or it may have reached its full enrollment capacity. Most charter schools open with a single grade, then grow by one grade per year.

From December - April 1st, you can use the Charter Center's Common Online Charter School Application to find and apply to schools near you. The application deadline for the 2014-15 school year has passed, but some schools may still be accepting applications for a place on their waitlists. We recommend you reach out to schools directly. You can search for charter schools using the school search.


2 Get answers to frequently asked questions about enrollment.


3 Learn important dates in the application process.

Research and visit schools
Complete & Submit Applications

January - March
Admissions lotteries conducted
Parents receive notification

April - May
Parents complete the enrollment process
May - June

School begins
August - September


ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Do I need proof of my family’s immigration status to enroll my child in a charter school?
No, schools cannot request this documentation.
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Do charter schools have selective admissions?
No. Charter schools are free and open to all children, regardless of their academic skills or needs. They must take children on a first-come, first-served basis. However when more children apply than there are seats available, charter schools hold random admissions lotteries.
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Do charter schools have to take students who are English Language Learners?
Yes. However, a majority of charter schools provide only English as a Second Language (ESL) support. Parents should speak directly to school leaders to get a better understanding of the instructional strategies their schools use to support the academic growth of English Language Learners.
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Do charter schools have to admit students who are receiving special education services?
Yes, charter schools work to meet the goals and objectives outlined in students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEP). However, just as with district schools, not every charter school provides an appropriate placement for every child. A majority of charter schools have appropriate placements and programs for children with less restrictive environments written into their special education program, while some offer a wider array of placements and services.
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How old does my child need to be to apply to a charter school?
This depends on the individual schools and the grade levels they serve. Kindergarten is the earliest entry point for charter schools; typically children must turn 5-years-old by December 31 of the year they are admitted.
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How do I apply to a charter school?
Each school has its own application process. Interested students must apply directly to the school. There are typically several ways in which families can acquire an application:
  1. Visit the school’s website and download an application or apply online, if available.
  2. Call the school and ask them to mail you an application. You can then fax or mail back the application in advance of the deadline.
  3. Use the Charter Center’s school search to learn more about a school.
  4. Apply to school's through the Charter Center's Common Online Charter School Application.
Once you have identified the schools you are interested in applying to, we recommend you call the school directly to ensure you clearly understand their admissions process.
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Can I apply to more than one charter school?
Yes. You can apply separately to as many charter schools as you want. Please note, however, that by law NYC charter schools must give preference to students who live within the community school district (CSD) where the charter school is located. You can find out which CSD you belong to with our school search. You can apply to multiple schools at once through the Charter Center's Common Online Charter School Application from Dec. 1 - April 1 only.
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Can I apply for a charter school that is not in my Community School District (CSD)?
Yes, although, as mentioned above, schools give admissions preference to students located in their CSD and many charter schools have long waiting lists of students who live within the CSD.
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When is my application due?
Each school sets its own application deadline, but most schools require that applications be in before April 1 for a child’s placement in August/September. As some schools have earlier deadlines, you should inquire with individual schools about their deadlines. The Charter Center does not accept applications.
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What is the lottery?
The lottery is an admissions process required by New York State law that is held when there are more student applications to a charter school than seats available. The lottery randomly selects from all applicants for admission. Students who are not selected in the lottery will be placed on a waiting list for spaces that may become available in the future.
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When is the lottery?
Each school sets its own lottery date. Most school admission lotteries are held in April for placement in the fall of that same year. Students who seek admission after the lottery date are placed on the waiting list. If there are vacancies and no waiting list, then seats are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
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Is anyone given preference in the lottery?
Yes. The law requires charter schools to give preference to returning students, siblings of students already enrolled in the school and students who reside in the Community School District in which the charter school is located. Charter schools are also permitted to give preferences for students at-risk of academic failure. As a result, some schools give preferences for students who are English Language Learners, while other schools give preferences for students who are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. Still others have preferences for students who did not score at the proficient level on the state tests.
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Does my child need to be present for the admissions process?
No, your child does not need to be present for the application submission or the lottery.
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How do I know if my child gets in to a charter school?
The charter school will contact the family directly with either a letter or a phone call to let you know if your child has been accepted. You will then be required to contact the school in order to finalize the enrollment.
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If my child is accepted, will he/she have to participate in the lottery each year?
No, students who are accepted through the lottery will be enrolled in the school and be able to remain there in future years. Parents must let the school know that they plan to return each year.
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If my child is enrolled in a charter school, will his/her younger siblings also be able to attend that school?
Siblings of children in charter schools must still apply to a charter school. They will, however, receive preference in the lottery and are likely to get in if there is space in the school.
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Can I transfer my child from one charter school to another?
No. Charter schools are independent from one another. If you would like to move your child to another charter school, you will need to go through the application process for the school to which you wish to move.
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If my child attends a charter middle school will they automatically be enrolled in a charter high school?
No. Any time a child moves from one school to another, families have to go through the enrollment process required by the next school. However, if a school that provides elementary grades at one site and middle school grades at another site, that child will have the right to move to the middle school from the elementary school.
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How do I find a charter school?
The Charter Center map feature allows you to search for schools by your Community School District (CSD), address, and borough. Click here to visit our charter school search.
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