Weiler, Spencer

Committee Member

Armenta, Anthony

Committee Member

Cray, Martha

Committee Member

Fahey, Kathy


Educational Leadership & Policy Studies


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created





180 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


There is a void in current research and literature critically analyzing how charter schools and their leaders provide equal access to all students. The language used in both federal and state legislation (in the 40 states that have passed charter school legislation) providing a legal basis for the establishment of charter schools explicitly identifies historically disadvantaged students as being a focus for charter school development as an alternative choice to other traditional public non-charter schools. The charter school movement began as an effort whose purpose was to provide more choices to parents and their students especially those who were concurrently enrolled in under-performing public schools. This qualitative study focused on the measures taken by leaders of charter schools that promote equity within their respective schools. Using a grounded theory approach to study the central phenomenon in question, 7 themes emerged which must be considered by policy writers, legislators, and leaders of all public schools. The first six themes apply specifically to the policies and operation of individual schools: 1) parent choice and influence, 2) enrollment process and outreach/marketing, 3) mission and curriculum, 4) academic accountability and interventions, 5) discipline and behavioral expectations, and 6) transportation and physical access. The seventh theme that emerged identified the responsibility of charter schools within the context of all public schools. The 4 implications of this research are: 1) charter schools provide equal access to all students when described holistically, 2) leaders of public schools have discretionary control over factors that limit student access identified in the 7 themes, 3) beliefs of educational leaders might impact how they choose to make discretionary decisions, and 4) charter schools should be considered a part of the public system of education by education professionals and the communities that are served by these schools.

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