Charter Schools

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Charter schools provide options for parents and students while allowing communities and educators to create innovative instructional programs that can be replicated elsewhere in the public school system.

All charter schools in Virginia are nonsectarian alternative public schools located within a school division and under the authority of a local school board.

Virginia Public Charter School Law

Charter School Legislation

HB 2218 passed by the 2017 General Assembly permits the Board of Education to communicate any Board finding relating to the rationale for the local school board's denial of a public charter school application or revocation of or failure to renew the charter agreement based on documentation submitted by the school board in any school division in which at least half of the schools receive funding pursuant to Title I, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended.

SB 734 passed by the 2016 General Assembly amended the charter application section; added a section on the applicability of other laws, regulations, policies, and procedures; and amended sections relating to contracts between the local school board and the public charter school management committee to require the following:

  • The local school board and the management committee of the approved public charter school to execute a charter contract within 90 days of approval of a charter application.
  • Academic and operational performance expectations and measures in the charter contract that are based on a performance framework with annual performance targets.
  • Notification with copy of an executed contract, signed by the chair of the local school board and the chair of the public charter school's management committee, sent to the Board of Education within ten days.
  • An executed charter school contract approved in an open meeting of the local school board before a charter school can begin.

Legislation approved by the 2014 General Assembly in HB 157 and SB 276 states that in the conversion of an existing public school, students who attend the school and the siblings of such students shall be given the opportunity to enroll in advance of the lottery process and the requirement that at least one-half of the public charter schools per divisions shall be designed for at-risk students does not apply.

For a local school board intending to open a new charter school or to convert an existing school to a charter, the application could be designed by the local school board as long as it adheres to the Virginia Public Charter School Law. A local school board, however, may use the application that is presently used by the Virginia Board of Education as a guide in developing the local application, incorporating modifications in HB 157 and SB 276 as relates to conversions.

Legislation approved by the 2013 General Assembly in HB 2076 and SB 1131 provides that charter school applications that are initiated by one or more local school boards are not subject to review by the Board of Education. A local school board intending to open a new charter school or convert an existing charter school would still be required to adhere to state charter school law. The division would submit a charter school application for each of the new or conversion schools to its local school board for approval.

Legislation approved by the 2010 General Assembly increases the level of state support and guidance in the development of charter schools in Virginia to ensure that local school boards receive quality charter school proposals. The legislation (HB 1390 and SB 737):

  • Requires charter school applicants to submit the application to the Board of Education for a determination as to whether the application meets the board’s approval criteria prior to submitting the application to the local school board. (NOTE: 2013 General Assembly action does not require charter school applications initiated by local school boards to be reviewed by the Board of Education.)
  • Permits the applicant to petition the local school board for reconsideration of a decision to deny, revoke or fail to renew an application.
  • Provides that prior to such reconsideration, the applicant may seek technical assistance from VDOE.
  • Requires local school boards to give at least 14 days’ notice of intent to receive public comment on a charter school application.
  • Provides that if a local school board denies an application, it must provide the applicant with the reasons for the decision and post such reasons on its website.
  • Requires local school boards to establish a process for reconsideration, including an opportunity for public comment.
  • Allows an applicant to seek technical assistance from VDOE prior to reconsideration by the local school board.
  • Provides that upon reconsideration, the decision of the local school board shall be final and not subject to appeal.
  • Permits an applicant who has been denied approval to submit a new application.

A Virginia public charter school may be approved or renewed for a period not to exceed five school years; however, the school can be granted multiple renewals that permit operation for more than a total of five years.

Public Charter School Application

The application and process were revised to reflect changes to charter schools approved by the General Assembly during the 2016 session (Senate Bill 734This link takes you out of the Virginia Department of Education website). The application process has been updated to reflect HB 2218 passed by the 2017 General Assembly.

Application Documents

Board of Education Reviews

The Board of Education has aligned its procedures for reviewing charter school proposals pursuant to General Assembly actions in 2010 and 2012.

U.S. Department of Education Charter School Program Grants

The U.S. Department of Education's (USED) Charter Schools Program (CSP) oversees several grant opportunities each year. Additional information is available on the USED website.

Public Charter School Fund

In 2007, the General Assembly created within the treasury a special public charter school fund. Gifts, grants, bequests or donations from public or private sources paid into the state treasury and credited to the fund are used solely for the purposes of establishing or supporting public charter schools. See Criteria for Making Distributions from the Public Charter School Fund (PDF).

Charter School Annual Reports

Annually, the Board of Education submits to the Governor a report on the condition and needs of public schools in Virginia. This report articulates major improvements, accomplishments and challenges facing public education in the commonwealth. The charter school report is found in the appendix of the report.

Virginia's Public Charter Schools

There are seven public charter schools operating in Virginia. The Metropolitan Preparatory Academy proposed in Richmond has not received full local board approval.

  • Community Lab School, Albemarle County
  • Middleburg Community Charter School, Loudoun County
  • York River Academy, York County
  • Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts, Richmond
  • Green Run Collegiate, Virginia Beach
  • Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy, Richmond
  • Hillsboro Charter Academy, Loudoun County

Community Lab School – Albemarle County

  • School Division: Albemarle County
  • Grade Levels: 6-12
  • Number of Students: 210
  • Opened: February 2001
  • Website:  Community Lab School

Community Lab School (formerly Murray High School, renamed after merging with Community Public Charter Middle School in 2020) aims to foster creativity and intellectual curiosity through art and design, experiential learning, mastery, and student agency.  As an educational laboratory for student-centered learning, the school designs and pilots nontraditional and equity-focused approaches to learning that align to ACPS mission, vision, and goals with intent to inform practices more broadly.  Areas of emphasis include:

  • Interdisciplinary, Arts-Infused Curriculum
  • Mastery Learning and Standards-Based Reporting
  • Inquiry, Experiential, and Project-Based Instruction
  • Self-Directed Learning and Independent Study
  • Experiential and Community-Based Learning
  • Elective Pathway Emphasis on Creative Arts, Media, and Design

Partners in research have included the University of Virginia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, Maker Education Initiative, and others.  In July 2018, CLS became the first public school in Virginia and one of the first in the country to join the Mastery Transcript Consortium.

School Administrator:

Chad Ratliff, Principal
Community Lab School
1200 Forest Street
Charlottesville, VA 22093
Phone: 434-296-3090
Fax: 434-979-6479

School Division Contact:

Jay Thomas, Director of Secondary Education
Albemarle County Public Schools
401 McIntire Road
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Phone: 434-296-5820
Fax: 434-296-5805

Middleburg Community Charter School – Loudoun County


PURPOSE – Promote scholars of character who are curious, confident, and love to learn, by employing innovative educational approaches in a school that our scholars love.

Teaching and learning at Middleburg Community Charter School (MCCS) focuses on student academic success in the context of an integrated program influenced by the life and thinking habits of Leonardo DaVinci. The program is designed to meet Virginia academic standards, in addition to increasing student confidence and capacity for generating ideas at the college level and beyond.

Da Vinci’s Seven Principles

  • Curiosity (Curiosita) – An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.
  • Demonstration (Dimonstrazione) – A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and willingness to learn from mistakes.
  • Sensation (Sensazione) – The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.
  • Smoke (Sfumato) – Becoming open to the unknown. A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.
  •  Art and Science (Arte/Scienza) – Whole-Brain thinking. The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination.
  • The Body (Corporalita) – The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise. Balancing the body and mind
  • Connection (Connessione) – A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking.

MCCS is starting to evolve past Project-Based Learning toward Place-Based Education. That is the idea that students are active participants in their immediate community with the ability to identify problems and solve them. We emphasize a progressive, whole-child approach with a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics)-based curriculum taught to blended classrooms (grades K/1, 2/3, 4/5).

Middleburg Community Charter School is a tuition-free Loudoun County Public School (LCPS). We opened in the fall of 2014 as the first public charter school in Northern Virginia. MCCS is governed by a community-based board of directors, but operates under the umbrella of LCPS and is open to any elementary student living in the Loudoun County.

School Administrator:

Stephen Robinson, Principal
101 North Madison Street
Middleburg, VA 20177
Phone: 540-687-5048
Fax: 703-542-1257

School Division Contact:

Dr. Mike Martin, Director of Elementary Education
Loudoun County Public Schools
21000 Education Court
Ashburn, Virginia 20148
Phone:  571-252-1290
Fax:  571-252-1166

York River Academy – York County

  • School Division: York County
  • Grade Levels: 9-12
  • Number of Students: 75
  • Opened: September 2002
  • Website: York River Academy

York River Academy provides an academic, social, and career preparatory education in computer and web-based technology for students at risk of not graduating or graduating below potential. The curriculum is designed around a structured four-year plan where students are divided among cohorts and take classes leading to a Virginia standard diploma. Students also work toward accomplishing Information Technology industry certification and acquiring practical work place readiness skills. The school has a dynamic parent partnership program and community involvement.

School Administrator:

Holly Sheffield, Principal
York River Academy
11201 George Washington Highway
Yorktown, VA 23692
Phone: 757-898-0516
Fax: 855-369-2615

School Division Contact:

Candi Skinner, Chief Academic Officer
York County Public Schools
302 Dare Road
Yorktown, VA 23692-2795
Phone: 757-898-0300
Fax: 855-878-9063

Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts – Richmond

  • School Division: Richmond
  • Grade Level: K-5
  • Number of students: 340
  • Opened: August 2010
  • Website: Patrick Henry Charter

The mission is to establish a school based on parent, educator, and community involvement. The school intends to provide the children of the ethnically and socio-economically diverse Richmond community with an academically rigorous science and liberal arts curriculum that emphasizes environmental awareness and social responsibility.

School Administrator:

Dr. Eileen Atkinson, Principal
3411 Semmes Avenue 
Richmond VA  23225
Phone: 804-888-7061
Fax: 804-888-7064

School Division Contact:

Harry Hughes, Chief Schools Officer
301 North Ninth Street, 17th Floor
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: 804-780-7901
Fax: 804-780-7515

Green Run Collegiate  Virginia Beach City

  • School Division: Virginia Beach City
  • Grade Levels: 9-12
  • Number of Students: 371
  • Opened September 2013 first graduation class in 2016-2017
  • Website: Green Run Collegiate

The mission of Green Run Collegiate (GRC) is to engage students in critical thinking and teamwork to empower them toward college and career readiness and global citizenship as community leaders. GRC, as a Virginia Beach City Public Charter School, is committed to providing all students with the necessary skills to thrive as 21st century learners, workers, and citizens. GRC has specialized focus on college and career readiness with an emphasis on knowledge, civic, social and personal development for students. The curriculum includes the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (MYP) (9-10), the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (DP) (11-12), the International Baccalaureate Career Certificate Program (IBCC) (11-12) and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) for all students.

School Administrator: 

Rianne J. Patricio, Head of School
Green Run Collegiate
1700 Dahlia Dr., Suite 400
Virginia Beach, VA 23453
Phone: 757-648-5393
Fax: 757-965-3089

School Division Contact:

Cheryl R. Woodhouse, Senior Executive Director, High Schools, Office of School Leadership
Virginia Beach City Public Schools
2512 George Mason Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23456-0038
Phone: 757-263-1088  
Fax: 757-263-1260

Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy  Richmond

The mission of Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy is to provide an intensive functional life skills curriculum that is oriented toward career education and competitive employment for Richmond students, ages 14-21. These students have significant cognitive disabilities, lack a functional communication system, demonstrate significant deficits in social competence, and typically graduate with a Special Diploma. The school will enhance the productive contributions and vocational capacities of youth with significant disabilities who have typically not been competitively employed nor been seen as having the ability to be competitively employed upon graduation. Students appropriate for the Richmond Career Education and Employment Academy typically will enter with poorly developed functional communication and social skills as well as severe academic challenges. Outcomes for all students will be competitive employment, enrollment in meaningful post-secondary programs, or other productive activity that contributes directly to the well-being of the community.

School Administrator:

Maurice Burton, Principal
4225 Old Brook Road
Richmond. VA 23227
Phone: 804-230-7763
Fax: 804-230-7766

School Division Contact:  

Jason Kamras, Superintendent of Schools
301 North Ninth Street, 17th Floor
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: 804-780-7700

Hillsboro Charter Academy – Loudoun County

  • School Division: Loudoun County
  • Grade Levels: K-5
  • Number of Students: 144
  • Opening: Fall 2016
  • Website: Hillsboro Charter Academy

The Hillsboro Charter Academy provides a curriculum that uses research-based educational practices and methodologies. Student learning plans are designed to meet individual needs and incorporate an interdisciplinary approach that blends the visual and performing arts, technology education, science exploration, mathematics, and design engineering concepts in a cross-curricular structure.  Educators incorporate project based-lessons that immerse students in sensory activities to stimulate and develop students’ higher order thinking skills.

School Administrator:

Paul L. Vickers, Principal
37110 Charles Town Pike
Hillsboro, VA  20132
Phone: 540-751-2560
Fax: 703-771-6732

School Division Contact:

Dr. Mike Martin, Director of Elementary Education
Loudoun County Public Schools
21000 Education Court
Ashburn, Virginia 20148
Phone:  571-252-1290
Fax:  571-252-1166