Start a Charter School

June 28, 2018

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 2019 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 2019 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. Applicants can also reference the Planning Yearbook Playbook, a resource for conditionally approved applicants, to better understand the work they should anticipate during their planning year.


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.

2019 Charter Application Guidelines

Spring 2020 Charter Application Timeline


Action Item

December 6, 2019, 5p.m.

Letter of Intent Due (not required, but encouraged)

January 7, 2020, 12pm

Deadline to submit electronic application

January 7, 2020, 6pm

DC PCSB informs applicants about completeness of electronic submission

January 9, 2020, 2 pm

Deadline to submit paper applications

January 29 & 30, 2020 Capacity Interview

January 9 – March 12, 2020

Window for Site Visits

February 24, 2020

Note: Second Public Hearing may be held on February 25, 2020 (depending on number of applications recieved)

Public Hearing 

March 16, 2020 Vote
March 30, 2020 Decision Letter


More information about the Title V, Part B Charter Schools Program (CSP) Grant for Eligible Conditionally-Approved Charter Applicants can be found here.