General Education

 General Education FAQs

1.What are top tips for advocating for my child at school?

a) Put each communication in writing



As much as possible, put your communication to the school in writing, especially if you are requesting a meeting or services. Keep a copy of the letter, email, or note for your own records. This way, you have documentation of your requests and the responses you have received.

b) Keep your child’s education records in one place

This includes report cards, letters from the school, suspension notices, IEPs, evaluations, and other school-related documents. Create a folder in your email account to keep all school-related email communication together.

c) Schedule meetings with the school

The first step to resolving any conflicts with school staff is to schedule a meeting to talk through concerns. You should ask questions and take notes. As much as possible, try to stay calm and rational during the meeting.

d) Bring someone with you to important meetings

This person can be anyone who helps you to feel supported, such as a friend, relative, your student’s service provider, or advocate. Typically, there are several school employees present at meetings, and having someone to help you advocate may make you feel more comfortable and keep the meeting focused and productive.

e) Keep up to date with your child’s progress in school

Most school systems now have a website and/or smart phone app that allow you to see your child’s grades, attendance, and assignments. Check this resource regularly and follow up with your child’s teachers about your questions and/or concerns.

f) Get to know your child’s teachers

Teachers often know a lot about your child’s academic strengths and weaknesses. Thank them regularly for the work they do to help support your child!

2. Can I see my child’s school records?

 Yes!  Requesting a copy of your child’s records can be an important way to better understand how your child is doing in school. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that mandates that a child’s parents be allowed to inspect the child’s education records. Make sure that you request your child’s records in writing from the school. For students attending CMS, find out more information on how to request your child’s school records here:

The Student Press Law Center has a letter generator on their website that might be helpful for parents making requests for education records

Learn more about FERPA here

3. Are there any special protections available in school for children who are homeless?

 Yes.  A federal law called the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires schools to provide free public education to “homeless children and youths.” A child is considered homeless if he/she does not have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.

For example, a child is considered homeless if the child is:

  • Living in another person’s house after losing housing
  • Living in a hotel, motel, trailer park, or campground because he/she has nowhere else to live
  • Living in a shelter
  • Abandoned in a hospital
  • Awaiting foster care placement without a permanent place to stay; or
  • Living in a car, park, public space, abandoned building, substandard housing, bus or train station, or something similar.

Schools must immediately enroll children who are homeless, even if the children do not have all their enrollment paperwork. Children who are homeless are allowed to stay in the school they attended before they became homeless for the entire time the student is homeless. Schools must provide transportation to that school. Also, every school district must have a staff member designated as a contact or liaison to children and families that are homeless. Please contact your child’s school to find out who has been assigned as the liaison.

The contact information for the McKinney-Vento Specialist for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is provided here:

4. My child attends CMS, and I have a question about school bus transportation. Where can I find out more information?

CMS provides transportation information on its website:

You can also call the main transportation office between 7 AM and 6 PM: (980) 343-6715


Charter Schools

1. What is a charter school?

A charter school is a public school that is operated by a private nonprofit board. Charter schools primarily receive their funding from local, state, and federal tax dollars. They do not have to be accredited, meaning they do not have to meet quality assurance standards, but are approved by the State Board of Education and cannot discriminate, cannot have religious associations, and cannot charge tuition.

The NC Public Schools “Frequently Asked Questions for Charter School Parents” describes charter schools as “public schools serving public students with public dollars for the public benefit.” For more information, please see NC Public Schools Frequently Asked Questions for Charter School Parents 

2. Who can attend a charter school?

Any student that is qualified to attend a public school in North Carolina is qualified for admission to a charter school. As free public schools, charter schools are open to all eligible students as long as the school has space. If more students apply than there are available spaces, a lottery must be held to randomly decide which students will be enrolled.

3. Do charter schools have to serve children with disabilities?

Yes! Because charter schools are public schools, they must follow special education laws and provide special education and related services to all eligible students. Charter schools must provide all special education supports that are identified through the IEP process.

If your child has an IEP from a previous school, the charter school must follow that IEP until the IEP team meets at the charter school and revises the IEP or develops a new IEP. Similarly, charter schools must also follow Section 504 plans.

More information on the educational rights of children with disabilities in charter schools can be found here

5. How can I find a charter school for my child?

On the NC Public Schools website, you can view a complete list of charter schools, sort the charter schools by county, find specific information and details about each charter school, and get contact information for the Office of Charter Schools staff. NC Public Schools Charter School Information

For information on enrolling your child at a charter school, you should contact each individual school to ask about openings and the application process.


School Enrollment

1. Who has the right to enroll in an NC public school?

Any child has the right to enroll in a public school if he/she meets the following criteria


  • Is between the ages of 5 and 21
  • Tries to enroll during the first 120 days of a school year
  • Lives with a parent or legal guardian in that school’s school district
  • Is not currently suspended or expelled from that school or another public school and
  • Has not been convicted of a felony in adult criminal court.

2. Can an adult who is not the parent or legal guardian enroll a child in school?

Yes, if the following condition are met


  • The child is not under suspension or expulsion form another school district
  • The child has not been convicted of a felony, and
  • The child is living with an adult, who is domiciled in the school district, for any of the following reasons:
    • The death, serious illness, or incarceration of a parent/legal guardian
    • The abandonment by a parent/legal guardian of the complete control of the child as evidenced by the failure to provide substantial financial support and parental guidance
    • Abuse or neglect by the parent/legal guardian
    • The physical or mental condition of the parent/legal guardian is such that he/she cannot provide adequate care and supervision of the child
    • The loss or inhabitability of the child’s home as the result of a natural disaster, or
    • The parent/legal guardian is on active military duty and deployed.

If these conditions are met, the school must allow the child to attend if the child’s parent or the adult taking care of the child fills out a special form (called an “affidavit”) explaining the circumstances. Ask you school to provide you the Affidavit.

Click on images below to explore other topics.

More Tips - Children with Disabilities

More Tips - Mental Health

More Tips - School Discipline / Bullying

More Tips - Delinquency

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For additional resources and agencies that may assist you with education questions,

please review our Community Resources list.

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