The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) is pleased with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s en banc decision today in Peltier v. Charter Day School, holding that charter schools are, in fact, state actors for federal equal protection purposes.
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.”
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.
This case – the first time a federal appellate court considered whether public charter school students deserve the same constitutional civil rights protections as district public school students – is of immense significance. Public charter school students have the same constitutional and civil rights as their district public school peers.