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Charter Schools

In 1997, the Ohio Legislature passed a law allowing charter schools to operate in Ohio. Since then, the number of charter schools — also called "community schools" — has grown to more than 200 around the state, with about 35 operating within Hamilton County.

Charter schools are publicly funded elementary or secondary schools that operate under a contract, or charter. These public schools do not have to follow some rules, regulations and laws that apply to other public schools, in exchange for accountability for producing specific results set out in each charter school's charter. As a public school, a charter school may not discriminate in their student enrollment, cannot teach religion and cannot charge tuition.

Cincinnati Public Schools is working to form partnerships with proven successful charter schools, such as the Carpe Diem Schools, to expand CPS' portfolio of school choices.

The large number of local charter schools can present a confusing picture of public education in Cincinnati and can raise questions for parents about which schools will best serve their children. Most charter schools are relatively new, with limited experience in the field of public education and often are unproven in terms of how they educate students.

Frequently Asked Questions About charter Schools

Are charter schools part of Cincinnati Public Schools?

No. Charter schools have their own staffs, curriculum and boards. CPS does sponsor two charter schools — the Lighthouse Community School and the Carpe Diem School - Aiken — but these schools are not operated by CPS.

How can you tell if your child attends a charter school or one of Cincinnati Public Schools?

Ask the school's office staff; check the CPS School List on our website; or, call CPS’ Customer Help Center, (513) 363-0123, to see if your child’s school is operated by Cincinnati Public Schools.

Can a child return to Cincinnati Public Schools if parents are not satisfied with a charter school?

Yes, CPS welcomes every child who lives within the Cincinnati Public School District's boundaries - at any time - to enroll in district schools. To learn more about school options in Cincinnati Public Schools, browse the website or call CPS’ Customer Help Center, (513) 363-0123.   

Education Associations' Charter School Comparisons

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
National Education Association (NEA)
U.S. Department of Education

More information about Ohio charter (community) schools:  Ohio Department of Education or call (614) 466-7058


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