Rhode Island

School Choice Policies

Charter School Choice

Does the state have charter schools?


Rhode Island has three types of charter schools:

  1. District charter schools: "schools created by existing public schools, groups of public school personnel, public school districts, or a group of school districts."
  2. Independent charter schools: "schools created by: (I) Rhode Island nonprofit organizations provided that these nonprofit organizations shall have existed for at least two (2) years and must exist for a substantial reason other than to operate a school; or (ii) Colleges or universities within the State of Rhode Island."
  3. Mayoral academies: "schools created by a mayor of any city or town within the State of Rhode Island, acting by or through a nonprofit organization (regardless of the time said nonprofit organization is in existence) to establish a mayoral academy..."

Rhode Island General Laws 16-77-2.1

Are for-profit charter schools or management companies allowed?


"The board of regents shall not approve a charter to a school whose overall operation or education program is managed by a for profit entity."

Rhode Island General Laws 16-77-3.1(d) Legislative Purpose

Is there a cap on the number of charter schools?


"No more than thirty-five (35) charters shall be granted. At least one-half (1/2) of the total number of charter public schools in the state shall be reserved for charter school applications which are designed to increase the educational opportunities for at-risk pupils."

Rhode Island General Laws 16-77-3.1(g)

Are charters required to provide transportation for any students?

Did not find-

We did not find information about charter school transportation requirements in Rhode Island statutes. A Rhode Island policy expert stated that charters may have limited obligations to provide transportation.

Rhode Island General Laws 16-77.2-5 (c)

Can charter schools employ uncertified teachers?


Teachers and administrators in district charter schools, independent charter schools, and mayoral academies must be certified pursuant to state law and regulation.

Rhode Island General Laws 16-77.2-2(a:12), 16-77.3-2(a:12), 16-77.4-2(a:12)

Virtual School Choice

Do state statutes allow for full-time virtual schools?

Did not find-

We did not find statutes regarding full-time virtual schools. However, school districts and charter schools can access virtual course programs for students: "In partnership with the commissioner of higher education, the commissioner of elementary and secondary education shall promote access to high quality virtual courses for all public elementary, secondary, and postsecondary students."

Rhode Island General Laws 16-22.1-7 Cooperation with public institutions of higher education

Are virtual schools required to track attendance?

Did not find

Do virtual schools have to comply with state teacher certification requirements?

Did not find

Private School Choice

Does the state have voucher programs?


No voucher programs found.

EdChoice School Choice in America

Does the state have educational expense tuition tax credits or deductions?


No educational expense tax credits or deductions found.

EdChoice School Choice in America

Can students use vouchers to attend religious schools?

Not Applicable

Is there a cap on the number of students or private schools participating in voucher programs?

Not Applicable

Are voucher students in private schools required to take any standardized tests?

Not Applicable

Can private schools be removed from voucher programs based on performance?

Not Applicable

Are private schools in voucher programs required to provide transportation?

Not Applicable

Interdistrict School Choice

Does the state have interdistrict choice programs?


"Whenever the school committee of any city or town shall find that it is more convenient or expedient for any child residing in the city or town to attend school in an adjoining city or town, the committee may arrange with the school authorities of the city or town for the attendance of the child at their schools, and may pay for the tuition out of the city or town appropriation for public schools. The amount paid shall be used for school purposes only."

Rhode Island General Laws 16-2-19 Children attending in adjoining cities or towns

Are receiving schools or districts required to provide transportation to any students?


"This chapter shall be construed and applied to:... (7) Provide for the transportation of public school students who attend schools located outside of the city or town in which they reside, to protect the health, safety, and welfare of pupils who live at such distances from the schools which they attend as to make it impractical or hazardous to require the pupil to walk to school."

Rhode Island General Laws 16-21.1-1(7) Transportation of School Pupils Beyond City and Town Limits

Page last updated: December 2020

Click here to download the State Policy Spreadsheet. Click here to download the State Policy Map Data Memo.

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The State Policy Map provides a snapshot of school choice policy found in laws passed by the legislative bodies, for all 50 states and Washington, D.C., based on information gathered from state statutes in fall 2019; data checks continued through December 2020. Information on this site may not include the most up-to-date policy information. The State Policy Map does not systematically reflect state Department of Education administrative policies, rules, or regulations. All content on this site is provided for informational purposes only. Links to third-party websites are for the user’s convenience; neither REACH nor any affiliated entities endorse the contents of third-party sites.

Note: On June 30, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Montana's exclusion of religious schools from the state's tax credit scholarship program was unconstitutional (Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue 591). The responses to the question "Can students use vouchers to attend religious schools?" were collected before this ruling and therefore do not reflect any changes resulting from the Espinoza decision.