Seal of the U.S. Department of Education


Applying Federal Civil Rights Laws
to Public Charter Schools

Q uestions and A nswers


As part of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) and the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) efforts to support innovation and choice within the public school system, this publication provides important information on how public charter schools may be developed and operated consistent with federal nondiscrimination laws. The purpose of this publication is to answer civil rights-related questions that charter school developers and operators have raised.

The civil rights principles that apply to charter schools are the same principles that apply to all public schools. This publication contains no new law. Rather, it is designed to assist charter school developers and operators by making available a summary of civil rights issues applicable to public schools.

This publication provides general information that covers a broad range of federal civil rights issues. It does not seek to answer every question that may arise. In many cases, answers will turn on the particular facts of a given situation. In others, the law regarding the issue is evolving. Finally, other state or local civil rights requirements or other federal laws may apply.

For additional information, we encourage you to contact ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) or visit OCR’s Web site . A list of the addresses and telephone numbers of OCR offices is attached. DOJ contributed significantly to this document by preparing the portions where DOJ is featured. Contact information for DOJ and for other federal offices is included where appropriate. OCR and DOJ can provide technical assistance. Early consultation can help you understand and meet these requirements.


U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
May 2000


[ Table of Contents ][Table of Contents] [Background][Background]