Integration Charter Schools (ICS) is dedicated to providing innovative pathways to college that fully integrate students living with emotional challenges and others with special needs. In building a family of associated schools that share this common mission, ICS strives to fill gaps in public education. When fully realized, ICS, in conjunction with local public schools, will provide Staten Island parents of special needs children with an array of options which is richer than that enjoyed by any other community in the United States.

ICS’s John W. Lavelle Preparatory Charter School (Lavelle Prep), Staten Island’s first charter school, was established in 2009 with the mission of fully integrating students experiencing emotional challenges with a rigorous college-preparatory education that equips and empowers students to go to college and succeed in life. Now in its 12th year of serving students and their families, the school serves students in grades K – 12 with 40% of the admission seats are reserved for students with an IEP.

In 2015, Lavelle Prep spearheaded the development and authorization of New Ventures Charter School, a transfer high school that shares Lavelle Prep’s commitment to leveling the playing field for students living with emotional challenges. New Ventures promotes college and career readiness for overage and under-credited, as risk youth, aged 16-21 living on Staten Island, enabling them to graduate from high school prepared to excel in their academic, professional and personal lives.

ICS’s third school, The Lois and Richard Nicotra Early College Charter School (Nicotra Charter) is designed to provide an innovative pathway to college graduation for all students including those living with emotional challenges as well as those with other disabilities in all classes and activities. This exciting program provides an accelerated pathway to higher education which enables students to graduate from high school with a Regents diploma and credits from St. John’s.

Our fourth school, Richmond Preparatory Charter School, opened this September and is designed to fully integrate students, on the autism spectrum as well as those living with other disabilities in all classes and activities. We believe that the integration of students will empower them to break down barriers through the power of their daily academic and social experience, enabling them to develop the academic skills, emotional fluency, and confidence required to be successful students today and thoughtful, open-minded leaders tomorrow. In fostering both the academic and emotional growth of all students, RPCS will serve as an innovative educational model. 

What is a charter school?

Many people do not fully understand exactly what a charter school is. There are, unfortunately, many misconceptions around the realm of charter schools within our city, state and country.

As a proud family of 4 charter schools on the island, Integration Charter Schools believes it is imperative that all families fully understand what a charter school is, and why/how they exist.  There are a myriad of ways that charters differ from public schools, and there are also many similarities. 

Here are some of the top questions we often hear.

Do charter schools charge tuition? How do you “get in”?

No. Charter schools are the same as public schools in that they are open to all children, do not charge tuition, and are held to the same state testing and federal accountability standards. All students must apply first to then enter a charter school lottery, but there are no entrance examinations or fees associated with a charter school education. Every student has a fair chance at acceptance.

So then how are charter schools funded?

Charter schools are funded quite similarly to public schools, in that they receive public funds from per-pupil funding. Charters are also open to receive private funding as well through donors, fundraising, etc.

Do charter schools serve students with IEPS?

Yes. All charter schools serve students with IEPs, and all students with IEPS have the right to a charter school education that meets their needs and requirements..

Charter schools work with their local districts offices to ensure compliance.  In Staten Island, charter schools partner with the CSE, for all special education evaluations,  IEP planning and IEP meetings.

What is a charter?

The charter is the legally binding document that outlines exactly how the school will run, it’s mission statement, performance standards and other rules of operation. It is the governing document behind all charter schools.  Think of it as a performance contract.

Who “runs” a charter school?

Instead of being operated by New York State, charter schools are supervised and run by a group or organization – – in many cases, a private board.

Why should I send my child to a charter school?

One of the most distinguishable traits of all charter schools is that they have more flexibility in their programming and curricula as opposed to public schools. Charters are often driven by a unique mission statement or creed that is a central focus of their operations.

Charter schools are also held to higher performance standards than neighborhood schools — as they are audited and evaluated every time their original charter is up for renewal. Here in NY, schools are granted operating periods of 1, 3 or 5 years following every renewal.

Often, but not always, charter schools provide smaller class sizes and a more personalized education experience, too.

The bottom line?

Charter schools provide opportunities for students that might not exist within current public school offerings.

The driving force behind all charter schools is choice. Charters believe in the power of school choice, and that parents and their children deserve a say in the type of education they receive.

Integration Charter Schools core values