Start a Charter School

May 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 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.

The Fall 2018 charter application cycle will be used to review applications submitted by experienced operators, existing schools applying to expand grade levels, and schools responding to an RFP to take over an existing school (aka school takeovers). Applicants planning to open new schools should apply through the Spring 2019 charter application cycle. 

Fall 2018 Charter Application Timeline


Action Item

August 1, 2018, 5:00pm

Letter of Intent Due (not required, but encouraged)

August 29, 2018, 2:00pm

Deadline to submit electronic application

August 29, 2018, 6:00pm

DC PCSB informs applicants about completeness of electronic submission

August 31, 2018

Deadline to submit paper applications

September 18, 2018 Capacity Interview

August 1 – November 16, 2018

Window for Site Visits

October 15, 2018

Public Hearing 

November 19, 2018 Vote
December 4, 2018 Decision Letter