The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) strongly disagrees with the holding of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Peltier v. Charter Day School, decided August 9, 2021, that a charter school is a private actor and therefore not subject to the Equal Protection clause with respect to students.
While we support the ultimate result of the case (holding that the charter school must protect the civil rights of students as a recipient of federal funding), we nonetheless believe the court erred in its reasoning and support any appeal on these grounds.
Charter schools are public schools, as stated in every state charter law adopted across the country, including in North Carolina where this case arises, and as recognized in federal law. North Carolina’s charter school law, states “a charter school that is approved by the State shall be a public school,” and the statute further provides that “the purpose of this Article is to authorize a system of charter schools to provide…expanded choices in the type of educational opportunities that are available within the public school system.” (emphasis added)
We firmly believe, and authorizers are legally required to ensure, that charter schools cannot discriminate against any student on the basis of race, gender, sex, disability, or religious preference. Charter school students deserve and enjoy the same civil and constitutional rights protections as any peer attending a traditional district school. NACSA believes that charter school authorizers have a clear responsibility to ensure charter schools guarantee equal access to all students.