Courts have repeatedly ruled that charter schools are not public schools. These rulings have been sought not by charter critics, but by the charters themselves, to enable them to avoid complying with state laws.

Julian Vasquez Heilig of the University of Texas warns African American students and their families that charters are not considered public schools by the courts when it comes to discipline policies. Student rights are protected in public schools, but with few exceptions, not in charter schools. On matters of student discipline, the courts have decided that charters are not public schools.

The same is true for state labor laws.

Just a few days ago, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that charter schools are “private entities,” not public schools, and are therefore subject to different requirements when dealing with employees. This means that teachers at charter schools “are now subject to private-sector labor laws, rather than state laws governing public workers.” Charters sought this ruling when two-thirds of the teachers at the Chicago Math and Science Academy voted to unionize. The board said that charters are akin to private contractors that win government contracts. The charter schools view this ruling as a victory because they prefer to be treated as private organizations, not public schools governed by state law. See Valerie Strauss’s report of this decision here.

When charter teachers say they have been treated unfairly and go to court, the courts typically rule that charters are not public schools. This is a link to an article I wrote for my “Bridging Differences” at Education Week. Follow the links in my article and you will see decisions by courts in several states that charter schools are not public schools. These were rulings sought b charter schools, which insisted that they are NOT public schools because they did not want to be covered by the state laws.

“In Chicago and in Philadelphia, charter schools fought efforts by their teachers to unionize on grounds that they were not public schools and thus were not subject to state labor laws. The charter school in Chicago argued in court that it was a private school, not a public school, and thus not subject to the same laws as public schools.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a charter school in Arizona was a private nonprofit corporation, not a state agency, when it was sued by an employee who had been discharged. In this case, a federal court agreed with the charter school that charters are not public schools when it comes to the rights of their employees.”