Countdown to Annual Conference

Three elementary school children leaning towards each other and smiling at the camera.


The NC Association for Public Charter Schools exists to advance quality educational opportunities for all North Carolina children by supporting and expanding successful charter schools.


Our vision is to be the fiercest champion for public charter schools in North Carolina by providing support through programming and vendor relationships; education of the public and legislators by increasing awareness and dispelling myths; and advocacy on the local, state, and federal levels to protect public charter schools’ flexibility and autonomy and to increase funding.



The passing of the Charter Schools Act of 1996 (CSA), House Bill 955, marked the beginning of the charter school movement in North Carolina. The bill was sponsored by Senator Wib Gulley (D-Durham) and Representative Steve Wood (R-Guilford). Charter schools were established in an effort to improve the academic chances and performance of those that were at-risk and those that were academically gifted, but all students eligible to attend our state’s public schools are eligible to apply to a charter school. CSA allowed any person, group, or non-profit organization to propose a charter school; however, the State Board of Education was given the power to approve or reject proposals. CSA capped the number of state charter schools at 100.

Recognizing an opportunity to bring educational innovation to students, thirty-four charter schools opened in 1997. Eighteen of them continue 24 years later to provide school choice to the families in their areas, also proving that it is possible to meet the fidelity standards established by the NC SBE, CSAB, and OCS while meeting the needs of students.

The Academy of Moore County Eno River Academy Maureen Joy Charter School
Arapahoe Charter School The Exploris School Quality Education Academy
Carter G. Woodson School Francine Delany New School Rocky Mount Preparatory
Chatham Charter Healthy Start Academy Sallie B Howard School
Children's Village Academy The Learning Center Sterling Montessori Academy
CIS Academy Magellan Charter Summit Charter


With the rapidly growing movement, there was a need to have an advocacy group that would facilitate advocacy, support, and education on behalf of charter schools state-wide that faced tremendous opposition. By January of 2010, the first North Carolina charter school organization was formed with 28 member schools. It was known as the NC Alliance for Public Charter

In August of 2011, Senate Bill 8 was passed removing the cap on the number of charters that can operate in the state. That was a tremendous milestone as it has enabled the expansion of school choice and the creation of over 200 charter schools in the state.

Prior to 2015, North Carolina had two public charter schools’ advocacy organizations: the NC Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the NC Association of Public Charter Schools. Acknowledging that competition between the two groups weakened the movement as a whole, the boards of both organizations met in late 2015 to discuss a merger, agreeing that one voice would be best for the schools. In 2016, the new NC Association for Public Charter Schools was born, consisting of board members Lisa Gordon-Stella (co-chair), Jennifer Lucas (co-chair), Natalie Brozy, Ivonne Reed, Carroll Reed, Rudy Swofford, Simon Johnson, Kirby McCrary, Cynthia McQueen, Steve Hester, and Meredith Flowe.

Shortly after the formation of the new organization, a nationwide search began for an Executive Director. Although the board considered many qualified applicants, one name stood out. Having served on the previous Association’s board of directors, Rhonda Dillingham was known to many of the current board members as a former educator, co-founder and former Chief Education Officer of Uwharrie Charter Academy. Her over 20 years of experience in education, combined with the fact that she is not a political insider, made her the best candidate for the job. Dillingham was hired in February of 2017. An important aspect of her leadership comes from the relatability she possesses with school leaders, board members, and teachers. Further, she is a firm believer in school choice as her youngest daughter benefitted from the project-based small learning environment at Uwharrie Charter Academy.

Key Bills that the NCAPCS and their lobbying team have been influential in advocating for the passage of are:

HB 219Charter School Omnibus

This bill would offer clarity to the requirements of Charter Application and renewal, limit enrollment caps to low-performing schools, allow charter schools to admit out-of-state students and foreign exchange students, add admissions preferences for graduates of certain pre-k programs and for children of military families, prohibit discrimination of charter school students, authorize counties to provide capital funds to charter schools, allow the Central Park School for Children in Durham County to conduct a weighted admissions lottery pilot program, and includes a technical correction to review board stagger.

HB 618Charter School Review Board

HB618 was an act to convert the Charter Schools Advisory Board into the Charter Schools Review Board, to shift the authority to approve charters from the State Board to the Review Board, and to create a right of appeal to The State Board of Education from review board decisions.

H729 - Charter School Omnibus Bill
This bill would allow charter schools to offer virtual instruction, including charter schools in all aspects of teacher Residency Licensure, and would allow counties to fund charter schools’ capital projects.

S87 Medicaid Reimbursement/Charter Schools
This bill would allow charter schools to bill Medicaid for reimbursement of all eligible

S257 (Session Law 2017-57) – Appropriations Act of 2017
This bill contains provisions that require DOT and municipalities to reimburse schools for required roadway improvements.

H75 (Session Law 2019-222) – School Safety Funds, Programs, and Reports
This bill funds school safety grants and ensures charter schools are eligible in all school grants. School safety grants funded include services for students in crisis, school safety training, and safety equipment.

H57 (Session Law 2019-51) - Create Term for Public Schools & Codify NCVPS
This bill creates a new definition for the term public school unit; in the education chapter of the General Statutes (Chapter 115C). The term would include local school administrative units, charter schools, regional schools, innovative schools, the residential schools for the deaf and blind, laboratory schools, and the residential School of the Arts high school, and the residential School of Science and Mathematics.

H362 (Session Law 2019-154) - 15-Point Scale for School Performance Grades
This bill changes the scale for the determination of school performance grades to a 15- point scale, require the State Board of Education to adopt emergency rules in preparation for permanent rulemaking; and direct the State Board of Education to study the reporting methods used for school accountability purposes on the North Carolina annual school report cards.

H411 (Session Law 2019-142)Modify School Quality/Student Success Indicator 
This bill combines career and college readiness indicators for both school performance grades required under State law as well as for federal reporting purposes under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and requires the State Board of Education to include additional career and college readiness information on annual school report cards.

S113, Education Omnibus  
The conference report for this bill includes provisions that allow the Superintendent of Public Instruction to approve bonds to finance or refinance a charter school facility (Section 7) and changes the State Board of Education charter school report date on educational effectiveness from February 15 to June 15 (Section 6).
S681, Agency Policy Directives/2019-2020 
This bill includes provisions that broaden certain charter school enrollment priorities (Section 2.3(a)) and expand the Schools that Lead Pilot Program (Section 2.4).
H118 (SL 2020-89) - COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor
This bill would provide limited liability in claims arising from contraction of COVID-19 to a variety of entities including schools.
H1023 (SL 2020-80) - Coronavirus Relief Fund/Additions & Revisions
This bill includes $75M to DPI for emergency school nutrition services, $7M to DPI to provide personal protective equipment for public schools, and $5M to DPI to hold in reserve and award as grants to provide access to services for exceptional children who have lost critical services as a result of school closures.
H1071 (SL 2020-27)Funds to DPI for ADM Growth
This bill appropriates funds to DPI for increased Average Daily Membership in public schools.


S476 (SL 2020-7)  - School-Based Mental Health
This bill directs K-12 school units to adopt and implement a school-based mental health plan that includes a mental health training program and a suicide risk referral protocol.


NCAPCS is the largest charter school membership organization in the state that supports, advocates and educates on behalf of the charter school community. We also maintain the Guidestar Gold Transparency rating.