The state law governing charter schools is seemingly transparent about the need for them to be transparent: “The governing body of a charter school shall be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.” But most of the 37 charter school operators in Chicago—some of which run multiple campuses—do not yet have a clear grasp of the openness required of them.

We sent each of the charters a FOIA request asking for copies of their most recent annual budgets and payrolls, including the titles and salaries of everyone on staff.

Most failed to complete the assignment satisfactorily. A handful excelled. Others made an effort but need to show further progress.

Here how they fared:


Charter failed to respond to FOIA request—and didn’t even bother with a lame excuse.

Academy of Communications and Technology

Alain Locke Charter School

Betty Shabazz International Charter School

Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter Elementary School

Henry Ford Academy Power House Charter High School

Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy

LEARN Charter School Network

Young Women’s Leadership Charter High School


Charter turned in assignment two and a half months late and only after a phone call to the parent (i.e., the mayor).

UNO Charter School Network


Charter expressed intent to respond but neglected to complete the assignment. Perhaps the dog ate the homework.


Catalyst Schools

Chicago International Charter Schools

Galapagos Elementary Charter School

Legacy Charter Elementary School

Namaste Charter Elementary School

North Lawndale College Prep

Passages Charter Elementary School

Providence Englewood Charter—Bunche

University of Chicago Charter School

Urban Prep Academies


Charter complied with the request but the work was vague, disorganized, and often difficult to understand.

Amandla Charter High School


Charter’s work was flawed but completed on time with good effort.

ACE Technical Charter High School

Erie Elementary Charter School


Gold star! Budget and payroll were a joy to read.

Academy for Global Citizenship (Elementary School)

Chicago Math and Science Academy High School

Chicago Talent Development Charter High School

Chicago Virtual Charter High School

EPIC Academy High School

KIPP Ascend Academy Chicago

Noble Network of Charter Schools

Perspectives Charter Schools

Polaris Charter Academy Elementary School