District of Columbia School Reform Act of 1995

The District of Columbia School Reform Act of 1995 was passed by the United States Congress. Since Washington, D.C. is a semi-autonomous non-state, Congress has jurisdiction over the city and passed the Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996. Title I amended the D.C. School Reform Act in 1995, making charter schools part of the public-education system in Washington. Unlike the states, the District of Columbia had relatively little opposition to charter schools from politicians and the public; what opposition existed (from the Washington Teachers' Union) was not firmly entrenched due to controversy within the union. A strong advocate in getting the act passed was the advocacy group Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS), which continues to lobby for charter schools in the district. The act created the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board (PCSB) as the city's second, independent authorizer of public charter schools in the city (the first is the District of Columbia Board of Education). Board members are nominated by the U.S. Secretary of Education and appointed by the mayor of Washington. In 2006, the D.C. Board of Education voted to relinquish its charter-authorizing authority.

According to the D.C. Public Charter School Board's website,
The PCSB regularly evaluates D.C. public charter schools for academic results, compliance with applicable local and federal laws and fiscal management, and holds them accountable for results. The PCSB can close charter schools that fail to meet the goals established in the charter agreement between the PCSB and the school.
Congress mandated that the District of Columbia adopt charter schools to pressure the city's public schools to improve and to give parents more options for public education.

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