Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina


Yes, charter schools are public schools that are allowed the freedom to be more innovative with greater autonomy while being held accountable for improving student achievement.

ZERO. Public charter schools must be nonprofit corporations governed by a board of directors and follow state ethics laws. Public charter schools, just like district-run schools, purchase goods and contract for services based on the needs of their students. All of SC’s Public Charter Schools must submit an annual audit to their sponsor and the SCDE and must file 990’s with the IRS.

No, entrance exams are not allowed for admission to any public charter school in South Carolina. By law, charter schools must have a fair and open admission process, conducting outreach and recruitment to all segments of the community they serve. SC Charter Act requires there be no barriers to entry. The SC Charter Schools Act requires schools to hold a lottery if there are more applications than open slots. Public charter schools are nondiscriminatory in admission and employment practices.

In 2024, there are over 50,000 students enrolled in South Carolina’s 95 public charter schools.

No. Public charter schools cannot charge an application fee prior to the lottery.  Mandating an application fee has the potential to exclude certain families, thus setting barriers for acceptance/enrollment.

Charter schools may hire up to 25% of non-certified faculty, however, these teachers must still meet the highly qualified standards of the federal requirements in the content area. Many of the non-certified teachers are university professors, professionals with critical career expertise, or teachers certified in other states.

No, public charter schools in South Carolina cannot make volunteer hours mandatory. For example, no child can be expelled because their family did not complete the mandatory volunteer hours. Instead, a suggested number of volunteer hours could be included in a “volunteer contract” that the parent’s sign during Fact and Fee day. Along with that form, you can have sign-up sheets for events throughout the year to help guide them in the right direction. The “contract” is not anything that could be held against the family, but it allows the school to demonstrate expectations. Volunteer hours should be fun and offer a way to engage in the culture of the school. Some examples are reading buddies, helping with school events, sitting with the class at lunch so the teachers can have a break, doing community volunteer projects, spruce up the school events, taking photos for the newsletter, writing the newsletter, and of course, board members are volunteers, so their hours count.

Remember to keep track of family volunteer hours. Have a volunteer (another opportunity for hours!) be designated to collect hours by slips of paper or email and put them on a spreadsheet by family name for each month. This tally will help in two ways: if you send out the volunteer tally sheet quarterly, it reminds families about pitching in and may help motivate them to get some numbers on the sheet, and second – it could help you obtain money through grants. To include how many volunteer hours per school year in your grant proposals shows involved and dedicated families.

The specification of 20% is simply a rule of thumb or general guideline. There is no statute or federal law that mandates a certain percentage. There are schools that are above 20%, which is not recommended.

There are two factors involved when answering this question:

  • Financial – Many schools allow employees to only accrue a certain amount of days because it impacts their funding from year to year. At the end of the year when you balance out funds, you have to show this fiscal commitment against your fund balance. One thing to keep in mind is that the teachers who transferred to your school may have earned their days in a county that gets to set their own millage rate and raise taxes. Your county may not.
  • Sick Days vs PTO – Many schools have PTO that they can use for sick, vacation, or personal days. In this case, schools typically do not roll over PTO days, for the reasons mentioned above. Use them by the end of the year, or lose them. 

You will need to negotiate this piece when contracting with a new employee and possibly make up for the loss of accrual days with other incentives.

Charter schools are required to have 180 instructional days. The school day has to be at least 6 hours, including lunch. Each school determines the amount of time spent on each subject.

According to the SBE regulations on Charter High Schools: If the charter school plans to offer the South Carolina State High School Diploma, the application must set forth the method for meeting the state requirements for the High School Diploma, including, but not limited to, course unit requirements, seat time for Carnegie Units, as applicable, and the administration of the required examinations. A school may award one unit of credit for an academic standards-based course that requires a minimum of 120 hours of instruction. A school may award one-half unit of credit for an academic standards-based course requiring a minimum of 60 hours of instruction and one-fourth unit of credit for an academic standards-based course requiring a minimum of 30 hours of instruction.

When a quorum is present (the majority of the board is present) in a public space that was announced with an agenda in accordance with FOIA.

Per SC FOIA:  No chance meeting, social meeting, or electronic communication may be used in circumvention of the spirit of requirements of this chapter to act upon a matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power. 

Translation: Do not conduct discussions over email or on the phone.

Board members can all be at a school function but may not conduct business or discuss board-related matters.

SC Freedom of Information Act

 Yes: per FOIA:

Subcommittees, other than legislative subcommittees of committees required to give notice under subsection (a), must make reasonable and timely efforts to give notice of their meetings.

SC Freedom of Information Act:

No, there is no requirement for charter schools to have a SIC. The Governing Board could serve in that capacity if needed.

No, they cannot. Per section 59-40-190 of SC Charter School Law, section (D) states that “A member of a school governing body may not receive payment as an employee in the same school.”

Yes, raffles are legal for schools in South Carolina with some requirements and restrictions. This chart from the Secretary of State helps explain some of the requirements for raffles with prizes less than $500 or 50/50 raffles with funds less than $950. Before you start selling those tickets – read up on the fine print

Physical education is part of the school experience of South Carolina students. Physical education provides students with important opportunities for healthy activities and play. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) recommends that schools provide 150 minutes of instructional physical education for elementary school children, and 225 minutes for middle and high school students per week for the entire school year.

Grades K-5 Time Requirements

The time requirements for physical education in grades K-5 are outlined in the 2005 Students Health and Fitness Act. Students must have 60 minutes of physical education per week and 90 minutes of planned physical activity per week.

Middle Grades Time Requirements

For middle grades, physical education is one of the curriculum programs that must be included in instruction along with a list of other core subject areas. There is minimum set time requirement. The time allowed for each curricula area is determined by each local school district. Please refer to State Board of Education Regulation 43-232.

High School Time Requirements

Students must pass at least one Carnegie unit of physical education to include one semester of personal fitness and another semester is a lifetime fitness. Exemption applies to students enrolled in Junior ROTC and for students exempted because of physical disability or for religious reasons.


State-funded prekindergarten for four-year-olds serves children in the “most at-risk” category, where family income falls 100% below the poverty level or the family is eligible for services such as Even Start, Head Start, state-funded family literacy programs, Social Security, food stamps, Medicaid or temporary assistance to needy families (TANF). 

State law states that “students may enter 4K kindergarten in the public schools of this State if they will attain the age of four on or before September 1st of the applicable school year.”

Attendance is mandatory and compulsory for five-year-olds. State law states, “students may enter 5K kindergarten in the public schools of this State if they will attain the age of five on or before September 1st of the applicable school year.”

Students may enter 1st grade in the public schools if they will attain the age of six on or before September 1st of the applicable school year

The purpose of ESEA Title II, Part A is to help states and school districts ensure that all students have effective teachers; that is, teachers with the subject-matter knowledge and teaching skills necessary to help all children achieve to high academic standards, regardless of individual learning styles or needs. In this regard, the program provides substantial funding to help states and districts recruit, train, reward, and retain effective teachers. Title II, Part A, and Title I, Part A also place particular emphasis on the need for states and districts to ensure that teachers of core academic subjects meet certain minimum requirements to become effective educators. The criteria to be considered highly qualified are that teachers hold at least a bachelor’s degree, be fully licensed by the state for their teaching assignment, and demonstrate content knowledge in each subject they teach. By the end of the 2005-06 school years, one hundred percent of core academic teachers were mandated to meet the requirements.

Quick Facts about South Carolina’s Highly Qualified Teacher Requirements 

Yes. A bill was passed clarifying taxes for charter schools that are renting or leasing. Bill H4871(K) Section 59-40-140 states, “Charter Schools are exempt from all state and local taxation, except the sales tax on their earnings and property whether owned or leased. Instruments of conveyance to or from a charter school are exempt from all types of taxation of local or state taxes and transfer fees.” In a rental situation, the landlord will need to apply for the exemption.

If you participate in the ADEPT teacher evaluation model, you MUST participate. Each teacher that is evaluated must have at least one SLO in their evaluation. No one should have more than two. Elementary teachers are recommended to have their SLO be in the area of either math or reading. Others should be in the area they teach. These are intended to measure student growth. Further FAQs about SLOs can be found here. 

Schools may charge a reasonable classroom resource fee or an activity fee similar to the local district, but cannot deny enrollment to students whose parents or guardians can not pay or are unwilling to pay. Students who qualify for free lunch cannot be required to pay fees and students who qualify for reduced lunch may pay reduced fees. 

From the Charter Act:

(d) may not charge tuition or other charges pursuant to Section 59-19-90(8) except as may be allowed by the sponsor and is comparable to the charges of the local school district in which the charter school is located;


(8) Charge matriculation and incidental fees. Charge and collect matriculation and incidental fees from students; however, regulations or policies adopted by the board regarding charges and collections must take into account the students; ability to pay and must hold the fee to a minimum reasonable amount. Fees may not be charged to students eligible for free lunches and must be reduced pro-rata for students eligible for reduced-price lunches;

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