To be clear, creation of charter schools is a right given to states. The federal government has NO say over charter law in each state.
The enactment of State charter school laws is solely a State prerogative, and the definition of a “charter school” under State law is a matter of State policy.
However the feds give out a lot of money, via grants, for charters to plan and start-up. This has escalated under the Obama administration as Secretary Duncan is a huge fan.
Below is info straight from the US DOE and I am going to print it verbatim.
The Charter Schools Program CSP) was authorized in October 1994, under Title X, Part C of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended, 20 U.S.C. 8061-8067. The program was amended in October 1998 by the Charter School Expansion Act of 1998 and in January 2001 by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
The program, which provides support for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of charter schools, is intended to enhance parent and student choices among public schools and give more students the opportunity to learn to challenging standards. Enhancement of parent and student choices will result in higher student achievement, however, only if sufficiently diverse and high-quality choices, and genuine opportunities to take advantage of those choices, are available to all students. Every student should have an equal opportunity to attend a charter school.
Federal law and charter schools:
- Comply with the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act;
- Meet all applicable Federal, State, and local health and safety requirements
- As public schools, charter schools must be non-religious in their programs, admissions policies, governance, employment practices and all other operations, and the charter school's curriculum must be completely secular. A charter school may use the facilities of a religious organization to the same exten that other public schools may use these facilities so long as the charter school remains non-religious in all its programs and operations.
- There is not provision or mechanism in the law that recognizes conversions of private schools into public charter schools.
- In addition, a charter school may weight its lottery in favor of students seeking to change schools under the public school choice provisions of ESEA Title I, for the limited purpose of providing greater choice to students covered by those provisions. For example, a charter school could provide each student seeking a transfer under Title I with two or more chances to win the lottery, while all other students would have only one chance to win.
- A charter school may not create separate lottery pools for girls and boys, in order to ensure that it has a reasonably equal gender balance. A school seeking to achieve greater gender balance should do so by targeting additional recruitment efforts toward male or female students.