Maryland 2016 State Policy Detail
STRIVE FOR CONSISTENCY AND QUALITY IN BUILDING OUT CHARTER SCHOOL LAW
Maryland’s charter school sector has grown despite a particularly weak law. Current policy essentially serves as a “shell law”—a placeholder, ready for additions and improvements to ensure stable, quality, and legally autonomous schools as well as a viable alternative authorizer.
- Create legally autonomous schools across the state. Policy should ensure that all schools in all districts have a legally autonomous governing board and autonomy in crucial areas of school operations.
- Endorse professional standards for charter school authorizing.
- Create a strong renewal standard that directly links school academic performance to renewal.
- Require contracts, performance frameworks, and annual performance reports for all charter schools.
 The governing structure of charter schools and the degree of charter school autonomy vary considerably from school to school and from district to district in Maryland. The law neither explicitly requires nor explicitly precludes charter schools from having a separate, legally autonomous charter school governing board, and it does not automatically grant charter schools a waiver from any local or state laws or regulations. Instead, a charter school must individually apply to its LEA authorizer or the State Board of Education for any autonomies it seeks. The law does additionally require each LEA to develop a charter school policy; in practice, some LEAs have policies that provide additional autonomies. As a result, individual schools may be granted autonomy and operate with the freedom usually found in states with stronger laws.