Charter School Law and Requirements

The way charter schools operate is guided by the principles set forth in each state’s charter legislation. This section provides information about charter law in Illinois.

You can see the current Illinois Charter School law on the Illinois General Assembly website. In addition to the law, review the Charter School Rules which lay out procedures and timelines for school district reporting, charter school applicant appeals and certification of approved charter applications to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). You may also visit ISBE's website for related legislation, rules and policy.

In 1996, the Illinois Legislature passed a law allowing the creation of charter schools. Key aspects of the charter law include the following provisions:

General Provisions

  • The number of charter schools that can be created is limited to 75 in Chicago (5 of which are dedicated to drop out recovery schools) and 45 outside of Chicago.
  • Local school boards authorize charter public schools. To open a new school, a charter school design team must submit a charter proposal to the local school board for approval.
  • Charter school applications denied by the local school board can be appealed to the State Board of Education; if the State Board reverses the local school board’s decision and grants the charter, the State Board will directly oversee the charter.
  • A charter may be granted for a period not less than five and not more than ten school years; a charter may be renewed in incremental periods not to exceed five school years.


Charter school teachers either should be certified or possess the following qualifications:

  • a bachelor’s degree
  • employment for at least five years in a relevant field
  • passing a required basic skills test and subject area test
  • demonstrating continuing evidence of “professional growth.”
  • Chicago only:
    • 75% of all teachers in a charter school must be state certified. A charter school has 3 years from the date it opens to meet that requirement.
    • Current district teachers can take a leave of absence of up to five years to teach at a charter school, and their service status and retirement benefits will not be affected.


Charters negotiate the amount of funding they receive with their local board of education. This amount is between 75% and 125% of the district’s per capita student tuition. Charter schools are also allowed to apply for any State Board grant that is available for school districts.