Start a Charter School

September 22, 2017

One element of DC PCSB’s mission is to provide quality public school options through a comprehensive application review process. Each year, DC PCSB accepts applications to open new schools from a variety of applicants, including groups of individuals; private, public, or quasi-public entities; institutions of higher education; and experienced operators of existing public charter schools outside DC.

If you are considering applying to open a new public charter school, we strongly encourage you to inform DC PCSB staff of your plans as soon as possible, by emailing applications@dcpcsb.orgWe regularly meet with prospective applicants to discuss DC PCSB’s application process and expectations, and the applicant’s plans and questions.

Application Process

The 2018 Charter Application Guidelines outline the required steps applicants must complete to open a new public charter school or convert a traditional, parochial or private school to a public charter school. Applicants interested in opening a school should carefully read the 2018 Charter Application Guidelines and the School Reform Act.

Prospective applicants are also strongly encouraged to research DC’s educational landscape. To support that research, DC PCSB annually publishes its Background on Public Charter Schools in Washington, DC. This document provides information about the availability and quality of seats in traditional public schools and public charter schools in DC, as well as information about need and demand for existing and additional public school options.

DC PCSB evaluates each application based on four elements:

  1. A written application, based on the Charter Application Guidelines (available above);
  2. Site visits to the operator’s existing school(s), when applicable;
  3. Capacity interviews, which are question-and-answer-style discussions between DC PCSB staff and the applicant; and
  4. Public hearings, which are opportunities for the DC PCSB Board and the public to hear from the applicants.

Based on evidence gathered in each of these steps, DC PCSB reviews applicant groups based on five criteria:

  1. Demonstrated need for the school;
  2. Sufficient progress in developing the plan;
  3. Consistency of the mission and philosophy;
  4. Inclusiveness; and
  5. Founding group ability.

Each of these is defined in more detail in the Charter Application Guidelines.

Spring 2018 Charter Application Timeline


Action Item

February 1, 2018, 5:00pm

Strongly encouraged but not required: Deadline to submit a Letter of Declaration of Intent to Apply. 

March 9, 2018, 2:00pm

Deadline to submit electronic application for confirmation of completeness. We strongly discourage applicants from printing their applications before receiving confirmation that their application is complete.

March 9, 2018, 5:00pm

DC PCSB informs applicants if their electronic application is complete or not.

March 13, 2018, 2:00pm

Deadline to submit paper copies of application and, if applicable, completed electronic application.

April 3, 2018

Capacity Interviews

March 19 - May 18, 2018

Site Visits (if applicable) 

April 23, 2018 Public Hearing
May 21, 2018 DC PCSB Board votes on each application
No later than June 4, 2018 DC PCSB releases official decision letters for each application

Charter Application Video