For parents researching a charter school, here’s how to do it

Information on test scores, discipline, complaints and more is available from state and local sources.
Kindergarteners transition between classrooms at Southshore Charter Academy on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Riverview.
Kindergarteners transition between classrooms at Southshore Charter Academy on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Riverview. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Oct. 18, 2022|Updated Oct. 18, 2022

Hillsborough County has a larger percentage of charter schools than the average Florida school system, and there is much to know about each one. Below is an interactive table with details on every charter school in the district, followed by information on where parents can go to learn more:

  1. What they promise: Local school boards approve all new charter schools, unless they fall under the state’s new “school of hope” designation. School Board agendas are available online. They are searchable and include the charter school proposals and enrollment projections.
  2. Test scores: The Florida Department of Education maintains complete records about standardized tests, which are required in district-run and charter schools. Find the information at
  3. Who goes to the school: Also on the state Department of Education website you can find out how diverse a charter school is by researching the racial and economic mix of students. Visit Click on “School Report Cards,” then select the district and school. Poverty is expressed as the percentage of students who qualify for free lunch. For information on how well a school serves disabled students, note the percentage of students who are disabled. Anything much lower than 15 percent, the overall number in the population, could indicate that students are not being tested for disabilities or that students are being discouraged from attending because the school cannot adequately serve them.
  4. Discipline: Want to know how often students are caught fighting, bullying or disrupting instruction at a charter school? Find school-by-school discipline data at
  5. Budgets: These are available on each school’s website, typically under a tab that says “Governance.” You can figure out what percentage of their state funding is used for instruction and how much they are spending on administration. If they are taking on debt, you’ll read about that in the audit reports.
  6. Where to complain: Some parents complain to the school district or their elected school board member when things go wrong at a charter school. But the correct avenue is the school’s principal and, if that does not produce results, its governing board. The boards and their meeting schedules should also be listed on the school’s website. If you want to be involved, read about the governing board and its meeting schedule before you enroll your child. If the meetings are held telephonically or out of town, this might not be the best place for your family.
  7. Teachers, teacher pay, waiting list and other information: Every year, each charter school must submit an accountability report to the state Department of Education that includes a detailed list of who is on staff, and how many of their teachers are fully credentialed. The report also asks who owns the building and whether the school is in any kind of financial trouble. They are completed in May and can be requested with a call to the Department of Education at 850-245-0505.
  8. Students returning to the district, complaints, and transportation availability: The Tampa Bay Times obtained this information through a public records request to the Hillsborough County School District. Any member of the public can ask for it.