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Charter School Law Overview

“What is a charter school?” This is a question we are asked frequently.

At the most basic level, charter schools are public schools that offer alternative approaches to education. The goal is that these innovative approaches will result in improved education for their students. Each New Mexico charter school is an independent entity, created through a highly-regulated ‘chartering’ process pursuant to the New Mexico Charter Schools Act, NMSA 1978 §§22-8B-1 et seq.  Charter school applicants must apply for charter approval from a state or local district authorizer in order to begin operation.  New Mexico charters can be granted for up to five years at a time, and charters must apply for renewal of their charter as the end of their charter term approaches.

Because charter schools are designed to be different from public schools, their development and operations often present legal issues distinct from those of ‘traditional’ public schools.  Yet charter schools in New Mexico are still subject to most of the same state and federal legal requirements that apply to the ‘traditional’ public schools. This can result in a challenging legal environment for charters in New Mexico.  We provide knowledge and experience that help New Mexico charters to navigate the various laws applicable to them, including but not limited to:

  • New Mexico Charter Schools Act
  • New Mexico Public School Code
  • New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act
  • New Mexico School Personnel Act and other employment laws
  • New Mexico Open Meetings Act
  • New Mexico Procurement Code
  • Disability and Special Education laws

We have experience in assisting charter applicants with the initial charter application process, as well as in negotiating charter contracts with authorizers. After a charter is approved, we can help clients in the development of school policies, in securing school facilities, in advising on regulatory matters, and in providing school administration and the governing board with legal guidance as the charter school begins operations.  Once a charter is up and running, we also assist with matters that might arise in a school’s day-to-day operations, such as employer-employee matters, student discipline, authorizer relations, contracts with vendors and service providers, and governance questions.  When it’s time to apply for renewal of a charter, or if a school is threatened with revocation of its charter, we provide experienced legal representation, from meetings with the authorizer through the various levels of administrative and court appeals.  

We are here to help charter schools and charter applicants throughout New Mexico with their legal needs.  Contact our office by calling (505) 473-3020 for a consultation.



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1925 Aspen Dr. , Suite 301A, Santa Fe , NM 87505
| Phone: 505.473.3020

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