SUNY Charter Schools Institute - Parent Resources

Parent Resources


New York Charter Schools Act of 1998 (as amended)

Charter schools became a component of New York State's public education offerings with the enactment of the New York State Charter Schools Act of 1998. The Charter Schools Act as amended designates the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York and the New York State Board of Regents to authorize charter schools. The Act provides the parameters within which the schools must operate and the conditions by which their charters can be renewed.

For the national perspective on charter schools:

If you have questions or concerns about the New York charter school in which your child is enrolled:

Section 2855 (4) of the NYS Charter Schools Act provides that parents (as well as any other individual) who believe that a charter school has violated a term of its charter or the law may complain formally to the school and seek relief. The law gives the power to hear those complaints to the school’s board of trustees in the first instance (though the board of trustees may delegate that power to, for example, the principal or a committee of the board or a neutral third-party). The school is required to provide you promptly with that complaint policy in writing upon request from you and that complaint policy should provide you with the details of how and to whom you should direct your complaint. Click here to download an optional form that you may use to present your complaint to the school.

If, after making your complaint, you are unsatisfied with the school’s board of trustees’ determination and action (or after a reasonable period of time, the board or its designee does not respond to your complaint in writing—or does not respond within the time that the school provides in its formal complaint policy), you can make a formal complaint to the school's authorizer. Thereafter, if you are unsatisfied with the Authorizer's response, you can complain to the Board of Regents/State Education Department.

It is very important that before you use this formal complaint process (either with the school or afterwards with the school's authorizer) that you determine positively that your complaint involves a violation of the charter or law. If it does not, this formal process is not the appropriate avenue for you to seek a solution to your problem. For instance, complaints that your child’s teacher is not well-suited to teaching your child and you would like the teacher disciplined or your child moved to another class, are not likely to involve a violation of the charter or law, and you would not want to use the formal complaint policy to seek to resolve the issue as neither the school or the Institute would take any action. Of course, where the issue involves a criminal violation of the law (your child has been abused by a school employee or another student), you should immediately contact your local police department.

In addition to a formal complaint policy, many schools have more informal means of resolving issues that may involve your child. Where appropriate you may wish to use this more informal approach, which is likely to result in a resolution of the issue in a far more timely manner—and which is suited to dealing with issues that do not involve a violation of the charter or law. Even issues involving a violation of the law or charter may be able to resolved informally and you may wish to use this avenue before making a formal complaint (though the school cannot require you to do so and using the informal route the school may have does not stop you later from using the formal complaint process).

  • For questions or concerns about a school authorized by the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York, you may either contact the Institute at: 518/433-8277 or proceed directly to use of the Institute’s formal Grievance Guidelines and Form.
  • Not sure who authorized your child’s charter school?  Check the New York State Education Department's Charter School Directory.
  • If you are unsatisfied with the authorizer's response, you may contact the NYS Board of Regents in its capacity as providing oversight to all schools in the state.