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History of Maryland Legislation

history of maryland legislation

In 1997, the concept of charter schools was introduced to the Maryland General Assembly in a resolution introduced by Delegate W. Raymond Beck, a Republican representing District 39 in Montgomery County.  The resolution would have established a Bill of Rights for Parents and Teachers of Maryland School Children.  Number 12 on the Bill of Rights read as follows:

“The charter school concept mandates school policy development and operation at the local level.  Charter schools can provide greater parental involvement, better flexibility in teaching techniques, and should provide over time a greater percentage of school funding into the classroom.”

The House Ways and Means Committee gave the resolution an unfavorable report.

In 1998, Delegate John Leopold, an Anne Arundel County Republican representing District 31, introduced House Bill 999, which would have established a Public Charter School Program.  Through amendment, House Bill 999 became a bill to create a Task Force on Public Charter Schools.

The Task Force on Public Charter Schools convened in September 1998.  As part of its work, the Task Force reviewed House Bill 999 as originally introduced and other states' statutes relating to public charter schools.  The Task Force recommended legislation to ensure that Maryland public charter schools will qualify and be competitive for federal assistance.

In 1999, charter school legislation resurfaced in the form of House Bill 116, which would have authorized the county boards of education to be the chartering authorities for public charter schools.  The bill passed out of the House on a 129-6 vote, but died when legislators failed to take final action.

Again, in the 1999 legislative session, Senators Chris McCabe and Martin Madden sponsored another bill dealing with charter schools.  The bill – Senate Bill 761 – would have created a pilot program to enable children of families in the Family Investment Program who attended schools scoring at or below 24 percent satisfactory on the MPSAP composite score to attend public charter schools.  The bill passed the Senate unanimously.  The House amended the bill to read like House Bill 116, and the bill died when the Senate refused to concur with those amendments

In 2000, Delegate Leopold and others introduced House Bill 526, which was cross-filed in the Senate as Senate Bill 543 by Senators Chris McCabe and Martin Madden.  The bill would have established a pilot program of public charter schools.  Ways and Means gave the House Bill a favorable report, and the measure received approval by the full House on March 27 by a 119-16 vote.  Once again, legislators failed to take final action and the bill died.

In 2001, Delegate Leopold introduced House Bill 29, which was co-sponsored by Delegates Rawlings, Flanagan, Marriott, Greenip, Cadden, Rosso, and Cryor.  Yet again, the bill would have authorized the county boards of education to be the sole chartering authorities for public charter schools.  In the Senate, two bills were introduced.  First Senator Blount, with co-sponsors Senators Hollinger, McCabe, Collins, Conway, Dyson, Forehand, Frosh, Green, Hoffman, Kelley, Lawlah, Middleton, Sfikas, Stone, Van Hollen, Harris, and Jacobs introduced Senate Bill 604 to create the Maryland Charter School Program.  This bill would have established the State Board of Education as a secondary chartering authority, after the county boards of education.  House Bill 29 and Senate Bill 604 died when time ran out on the conference.  Senator McCabe and others introduced Senate Bill 721 to establish a charter school program, which received an unfavorable report by the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee. 

Once again, in 2002, Delegate Leopold and introduced House Bill 131, the bill would authorize the county boards of education to be the sole chartering authorities for public charter schools.  In the Senate, two bills were introduced.  First Senator Dyson and others, introduced Senate Bill 213 to create the Maryland Charter School Program.  This bill would establish the State Board of Education as a secondary chartering authority, after the county boards of education.  Senator Mooney and others introduced Senate Bill 401 to establish a charter school program.  Senator Mooney withdrew his bill.  A conference committee met and, once again, failed to reach a consensus.

In 2003, two versions of a bill were introduced in each chamber, Senate Bill 75 and Senate Bill 388; and House Bill 859 and House Bill 11. Senate Bill 75, The Public Charter School Act was passed and signed into law May 2003.