New Report Provides Guidance for Charter Schools Operating in Religious Facilities

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Washington, D.C. Finding a suitable facility for educating students is one of the most pressing challenges public charter schools face. Since most public charters do not have access to school district facilities, charter school leaders are often forced to lease space from private entities with affordable space, including religious organizations. However, recent legal cases have created some uncertainty for schools renting space in religious facilities. In a new report, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools provides recommendations for charters on how to avoid the challenges raised in recent court cases.

The report, Separation of Church and School: Guidance for Public Charter Schools Using Religious Facilities, maps the legal landscape for charter schools housed in buildings owned or operated by religious institutions. A particular concern addressed in the report is whether a charter schools use of a religious facility could be interpreted to violate the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which establishes the separation of church and state.

"Despite the huge parental demand for charter schools, far too many states and communities do not provide facilities or facilities support for these public schools. Consequently, charter school leaders must find suitable space wherever they can, including in religious facilities," said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "We're hopeful that this report will help charter school leaders more easily secure appropriate space for their schools without worrying about this challenging body of law."

About Public Charter Schools
Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, manyresearch studieshavefound that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.

About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit our website atwww.publiccharters.org