The Office of Charter Schools was established to implement state legislation authorizing the operation of charter schools and serves as the review and monitoring organization as defined by the legislation.

This site offers information about all aspects of our operation, presently operating UWM charter schools, charter school laws and regulations, and internet links to other charter school-related sites of potential interest. We are pleased that you have expressed an interest in charter schools and hope that the Office can provide the information you desire.

For further information please refer to our 2017-18 Annual Report (PDF).

For information not provided by this web site or our annual report please contact our office at (414) 229-4682 or e-mail

Adrienne L. Woods, M.S.
Office of Charter Schools


The Office of Charter Schools (Office) was created in 1999 within the School of Education (SOE) to carry out the University’s responsibilities under the Wisconsin Statute 118.40 Federal (Appendix A (PDF)) and State (Appendix B (PDF)) Laws and Regulations. The mission of the Office is to cooperate with community organizations, parents, groups, educators, and other individuals who are committed to improving the quality of education in the City to charter successful, innovative schools.

Office Responsibility
The responsibility of the Office is to:

  1. Grant charters to organizations, groups, or individuals that demonstrate the capacity to operate a high quality schools
  2. Establish clear expectations for performance
  3. Gather data necessary to ensure that expectations are met
  4. Evaluate school progress
  5. Take appropriate action to renew or non-renew charters based on a school’s performance in relation to expectations
Office Interests
The Office is interested in working with organizations, groups, and individuals that seek to develop charter schools based on research and successful practices in urban environments.

The Office encourages applications based on programs that:

  1. Present new, innovative organizational and curricular opportunities for the education of children in the urban setting
  2. Use models of effective instruction based on research and a demonstrated capability of replication
  3. Are built on whole-school strategies
  4. Focus on at-risk youth
  5. Integrate both educational and family resource services to address the wide array of issues that face children and parents

The Office is staffed by a director, administrative specialist, faculty statistics adviser, and a doctoral level graduate assistant (Job Descriptions (PDF)). An Advisory Committee meets bi-monthly to advise the director. An Application Review Committee meets annually to determine if applications will be recommended for charter status. An Evaluation Committee conducts summative evaluation of each charter school and makes recommendations to the Regents regarding charter renewal. Full descriptions of these committees can be found by viewing the Committee Charges (PDF) information sheet.

University Involvement
It is the University’s goal to look for charter applications that have a high potential to improve the quality of education in the City rather than the authorization of a large number of charter schools. The University does not intend to operate its own school system or to compete with the Milwaukee Public Schools.

The University has accepted the responsibility for authorizing charter schools in order take advantage of the flexibility allowed charter schools to develop innovative programs that address the educational needs of children living in the City. The University is interested in new, creative programs that will add to the educational mosaic and help define the elements of programs that will be successful in the urban setting.

The University firmly believes that there exists a knowledge base that can be used to redefine educational programs and opportunities for children who are considered to be at-risk (low achievement/poor attendance/potential dropout) in the current configuration of schooling. Thus, charter school effort should be used to demonstrate effective instruction and document educational achievement for at-risk students.

School reform can take many forms and be based on a number of philosophical approaches. It is not the goal of the University to implement a particular philosophy or approach. Rather the University desires to identify those approaches that produce academic results that are valued by society. The University encourages the use of existing knowledge and research to create an integrated approach that achieves fundamental academic outcomes.

State and federal law provides the general framework and the minimum requirements for the development of a charter school application. To become a University authorized charter school, applicants need to do much more than comply with the law. Applicants must provide evidence that the school, as envisioned, truly has the potential to create a high quality educational program with long-term viability.

Our Mission, Background, & Definitions

Our Mission

The Office of Charter Schools cooperates with community organizations, parent groups, educators and other individuals who are committed to improving the quality of education for children in the City of Milwaukee to charter successful, innovative schools. The Office of Charter Schools envisions the following elements within the charter school:

  • Programs that support effective instruction based on research literature
  • Programs that are innovative in meeting the educational needs of the community
  • Programs that will work to meet the needs of at-risk students
  • Programs that will contribute to reform efforts in public education
  • Programs that are innovative in addressing the challenges of urban education


Wisconsin Statute 118.40 Federal and State Laws and Regulations enacted in 1993 enabled school boards to establish charter schools. In 1998 the statute was revised to grant authority to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (University) to authorize charter schools within the city of Milwaukee (City). The central purpose of the charter school legislation is to eliminate a significant portion of statutory requirements and administrative rules and regulations usually imposed on public schools and in turn demand a new type of public accountability tied to actual performance.


Charter schools are non-sectarian, tuition-free, public schools created on the basis of a contract or “charter” between the school and an authorizer.

  1. The concept of charter schools was developed to create new educational innovations as part of a larger array of educational reform initiatives. The role of charter schools is to promote innovation, develop new models of education, and create working environments that foster improved educational opportunities for children. Charter schools offer a new governance structure for public schools that trades autonomy for accountability and holds high academic and organizational expectations for the school. Charter schools must meet all of the student performance and operational goals listed in their charter or the charter may be non-renewed or revoked.
  2. A charter school authorizer holds the statutory authority to: (1) grant charters to individuals, groups or organizations to operate charter schools in compliance with national and state and requirements Federal (Appendix A (PDF)) and State (Appendix B (PDF)) Laws and Regulations and (2) the responsibility to ensure public accountability.

Complete Listing of Charter Schools

Bruce Guadalupe Community School
Capitol West Academy
La Casa De Esperanza School
Milwaukee Scholars Charter School
Pathways High
Penfield Montessori Academy
Rocketship Southside Community Prep
Rocketship Transformation Prep
School for Early Development & Achievement
Seeds of Health Elementary (Windlake)
Stellar Collegiate Charter School
Tenor High School
UCC Acosta Middle School
Veritas High School
Woodlands School Bluemound Campus
Woodlands School State Street Campus


Our thanks is extended to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, Baldrige Quality Program and other charter school authorizers, especially the Charter School Institute at the State University of New York for ideas, information, and model formats to continually improve the authorizing process at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Their direct contributions are referenced throughout this website and in the bibliography (PDF).

Resource Links

Charter School Resource Links

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction-Charter Schools in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Contacts
(888) 245-2732, Ext 5 (toll-free)
(608) 266-5728

Wisconsin State Legislature

US Department of Education

ASQ – American Society for Quality

ASQ Presentation by Robert Kattman, Ph.D. and Paul Haubrich, Ph.D. on “Knowledge Plus Character Pave the Way”

California Charter Schools Association

Education Northwest – Materials to guide in the process of starting a new charter school.

Milwaukee Charter School Advocates

National Alliance for Charter Schools

National Charter Schools Institute

National Charter School Resource Center

New Leaders

Wisconsin Charter Schools Association

Wisconsin Laws Governing Charter Schools (PDF)

Other Grant Funds

eSchool News School Funding Center

Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE)

Fundsnet Online Services

Philanthropy News Digest (K-12) Funding Opportunities

Educational Development Center – Resources, events calendar, discussion area, and other practical information on assessing student achievement.

Contact Us

Mailing Address

UWM Charter Schools
P.O. Box 413
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413


UWM-School of Education
Enderis Hall 221, 227 & 229
2400 E. Hartford Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53211


Phone: (414) 229-4682
Fax: (414) 229-2670

Adrienne L. Woods, MS
Office of Charter Schools
Enderis Hall, Room 221
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Diana Borders, MBA
Assistant Director of Business Services
Office of Charter Schools
Enderis Hall, Room 227
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Nicole Beier, PhD
Researcher – Assessment Coordinator
Office of Charter Schools
Enderis Hall, Room 229
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee