The Mississippi Public Charter Schools Act of 2013 defines public charter schools as public schools that, among other characteristics,

  • Have autonomy over decisions including finance, personnel, scheduling, curriculum, and instruction;
  • Are governed by an independent governing board;
  • Are nonprofit organizations; and
  • Do not charge tuition.

Additional provisions of the law include requiring charter school applicants to receive permission via a majority vote from the local school board in order to establish a public charter school in districts with an “A,” “B,” or “C” rating. The law prohibits private schools from becoming public charter schools. It requires public charter schools’ enrollment of “underserved students” to be at least 80% of the underserved enrollment in the school district in which the charter schools are located.

The law defines “underserved student” as a student who qualifies for free lunch under the National School Lunch Program or a student receiving special education services. The law also requires public charter schools to agree to performance guidelines within their contracts including, but not limited to,

  • Student academic proficiency and growth;
  • Attendance;
  • Postsecondary readiness for high schools; and
  • Financial performance and sustainability.

Lastly, charter schools receive the same funding as traditional public schools and take the same tests.

The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board evaluates the qualifications of charter school applicants, approves qualified applications, and oversees the approved schools to ensure they fulfill the provisions of the charter contract. The Board is made up of 7 appointees: 3 by the governor, 3 by the lieutenant governor, and 1 by the State Superintendent. Appointments are made with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The current Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board members are

  • QUENTIN RANSBURG, CHAIR, Appointed by the State Superintendent of Education
  • LELAND SPEED, Appointed by the Governor
  • CHRIS WILSON, Appointed by the Governor
  • JEAN YOUNG, Appointed by the Lt. Governor
  • CAROLYN WILLIS, Appointed by the Governor