top of page

Charter Schools That Serve Orange County Students

Our Orange County charter school list includes:

  1. Full-time site-based charter schools

  2. Full-time site-based charter schools whose mission is to serve unique populations

  3. Part-time site-based programs offered by charter schools

  4. Full-time independent study charter schools.

*The following charter school summaries have been copied and pasted from the charter schools' websites.

Please note that this list is not comprehensive or complete. We'll continue to add more resources as we find them. This is a living document that will be updated periodically. If you have any resources to share with us, please email them to us at


1. Full-time Site-Based Charter Schools

Advanced Learning Academy (Santa Ana) - Advanced Learning Academy serves students in grades 3rd through 8th at one campus, and grades 9th-12th at a second campus (both campuses are in Santa Ana). It opened in 2015 as a Santa Ana Unified School District School of Choice. Their focus is to prepare students to be Future Ready, which means learning 21st Century skills such as Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. They are a small school that prides itself on building community within its classrooms. They use a competency-based instructional model, which means their classes are mixed grade levels. Students are grouped depending on their personalized learning needs. Each student is issued a Chromebook.

Community Roots Academy (Laguna Niguel) - A premier project-based K-8th grade public charter school with rigorous academic standards. With project-based learning at the center of this model learning community, an emphasis is placed on the mastery of fundamental academic skills, problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, initiative, effective communications, adaptability, evaluating information, and imagination. They also offer a fee-based Reggio-inspired constructivist preschool encouraging children’s curiosity and excitement for learning (the preschool is located in San Clemente).

Edward B. Cole, Sr. Academy, EBC Academy, (Santa Ana) - EBC Academy is a TK-5th grade charter school designed to meet the educational needs of a community consisting predominately of non-English speaking, low income, and Latino families. Their Mission, Vision, and Student Learner Outcomes (SLOs) target a community needing both support and opportunities to make necessary changes that will enable them to become 21st-century learners.

El Rancho Charter School (Anaheim Hills) - El Rancho serves middle school grades of 7th and 8th only. They became a charter school to be a better public school for those who expect academic excellence and seek a school that helps build character. They are a tuition-free, public charter that provides a unique, almost private school experience to the Orange Unified School District and beyond. As a charter, they are organized by teachers, parents, and community leaders. With a rigorous curriculum, unique electives, and dedicated staff, they are equipped to bring the best for your child and your family.

El Sol Science and Arts Academy (Santa Ana) - El Sol’s mission is to provide a rigorous academic environment for students in grades K-8 that prepares them for entrance into a college preparatory track at the high school of their choice. Along with providing a rigorous academic environment, El Sol’s mission includes creating a culture of kindness, creativity, courage, and honesty that will encourage our graduates to assume leadership roles in the 21st Century.

International School for Science and Culture (Costa Mesa) - The founding group’s aim of this TK-8th grade school was to provide educational programming with individualized, differentiated instruction, in smaller class sizes, ensuring personal attention to each student, and challenging students through a World Languages curriculum (Mandarin Chinese and Spanish). The program includes rigorous English literacy content, and experiential STREAM and social-emotional learning.

Irvine International Academy (Irvine) - This TK-5th grade public charter school is a Mandarin/English Immersion program. IIA is a place where learning to do the right thing is as important as acquiring book knowledge. Traditional values of humanity are restored in the classroom. Daily instruction will emphasize multiple intelligences (Dr. Howard Gardner, Harvard), Dr. Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy of higher-order thinking, and Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) so that students can develop problem-solving and lifelong learning skills.

Journey School (Aliso Viejo) - The Journey School in Aliso Viejo serves students in K-8th grades. It was the first public charter school in the Capistrano Unified School District. It opened its doors on February 14, 2000. The school was started by a group of committed parents and teachers who believed they could offer a distinct educational alternative by forming a school guided by the Core Principles of Public Waldorf education.

Kinetic Academy (Huntington Beach) - Kinetic West serves grades TK - 4th at one campus, and Kinetic East serves grades 5th - 7th at a second campus (both are in Huntington Beach). Kinetic Academy was founded by five local residents from diverse industries who share a common desire for choice in education, smaller class sizes, and an emphasis in providing as many different experiences as possible to every student. People learn best by doing. It is this basic principle that guides the educational philosophy of Kinetic Academy. They aim to implement a STEAM-based curriculum via a Project-Based Learning model.

Legacy College Prep (Santa Ana) - Legacy College Prep serves high school students in grades 9th through 12th. This charter school benefits from Ednovate’s partnership with USC exists to interrupt the systemic inequities that continue to oppress individuals from low-socioeconomic communities. They push students to uncover and fulfill their purpose as agents of social change, co-creators of knowledge, innovators, and problem solvers.

Magnolia Science Academy (Santa Ana campus) - K-12 Students throughout all Magnolia Science Academy’s (MSA) campuses in Southern California use technology daily at school and at home as a tool to work collaboratively with each other and communicate with teachers. They place great emphasis on STEAM education, to provide students an advantage in their college and career plans. Students at Magnolia Science Academy also participate in a variety of school activities and clubs including technology & engineering, language & culture, community service, and visual & performing arts.

Nova Academy Early College High School (Santa Ana campus) - Since 2005, NOVA Academy Early College High School has provided a rigorous yet nurturing learning environment for students in grades 9th - 12th. Students have the unique opportunity to earn college credits while completing high school. Founded on the belief that education opens a door to hope and the development of strong leaders, they offer a personalized approach to helping students succeed, both academically and in life.

Orange County Academy of Sciences and Arts (Laguna Niguel & San Juan Capistrano) - Orange County Academy of Sciences and Arts (OCASA) is a public charter school that offers two campuses, based on age/grade. Students from K to 5th grade attend OCASA Charter in Laguna Niguel and students in 6th grade to 10th grade attend OCASA College Prep in San Juan Capistrano.

Orange County Classical Academy (Orange) - The Mission of the Orange County Classical Academy is to develop K-12th grade students in mind and character through a classical, content-rich liberal arts and sciences curriculum that emphasizes the principles of scholarship, moral character, and civic virtue.

Orange County Educational Arts Academy, OCEAA (Santa Ana) - OCEAA enrolls a roughly equal number of native English speakers and native speakers of the partner language, Spanish; the two groups of students are integrated for all or most of the school day. All students have the opportunity to be both first-language models and second-language learners. The school provides an additive bilingual environment for all students since the first language is maintained while the second language is acquired. OCEAA’s program follows a 90:10 dual language acquisition model. Initially, 90% of instruction is in Spanish, with English instruction increasing until there is a fifty-fifty balance in 5th and 6th grades. In 7th and 8th grades, biliteracy is maintained with a minimum of two core academic classes taught in Spanish.

Orange County School of the Arts, OCSA (Santa Ana) - OCSA serves students in grades 7th through 12th. Founded in 1987 by visionary educator Dr. Ralph Opacic, OCSA has grown from a small after-school arts program into one of the premier arts schools in the nation. This innovative public charter school embraces and encourages artistic creativity and academic excellence, and produces lifelong learners who matriculate to top-tier colleges, universities, and conservatory programs. No student is offered or denied enrollment based on financial capacity. OCSA is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

Oxford Preparatory Academy (Saddleback Valley/Lake Forest campus & South Orange County/Mission Viejo campus) - Oxford Preparatory Academy serves students in K-8th grades. They believe that all students are unique and gifted individuals. They are committed to working collaboratively to develop life-long learners in a safe and caring educational environment where students are challenged, scholarship is expected, and differences are valued.

Palm Lane Elementary Charter (Anaheim) - The mission of Palm Lane Elementary Charter School is to provide K-6th grade students with a high-quality STEAM-based education in a digital learning environment to empower students to meet and surpass grade-level standards.

Santiago Charter Middle School (Orange) - Santiago Charter Middle School, serving grades 7 and 8th is a State & National Award-Winning School. Students are required to wear school uniforms.

Sycamore Creek Charter School (Huntington Beach) - Located in Huntington Beach, Sycamore Creek Charter opened its doors in 2019, for TK-6th graders. Their curriculum, guided by the Core Principles of Public Waldorf Education, focuses on developing the child’s active will and supports clear and independent thinking. They are committed to contributing to the healthy growth of the whole child at each stage of their development.

Tomorrow's Leadership Collaborative (TLC) Charter School (Orange) - TLC provides an engaging, interest-based learning environment for students in grades TK - 6th. All students matter and each student is challenged and supported to reach high expectations for learning, growth, and development.

Vibrant Minds Charter School (Anaheim) - Vibrant Minds Charter School serves students in TK through 6th grade. The school first opened on Monday, August 17, 2015. While providing a rigorous academic program, there is also a focus on discovering scholars’ interests and talents and transforming them into strengths. In order to provide this personalized mentoring, the school has a commitment to remain small, with a maximum future enrollment of 420. Through generous grants, they have a robust after-school program available for free.

Vista Charter Public Schools (Santa Ana) - Vista Charter Public Schools have two campuses in Santa Ana, The Vista Condor Global Academy serving students in grades K-5, and the Vista Heritage Global Academy that serves students in grades 6-8th. At Vista Charter Public Schools, all teachers have been extensively trained in Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures and Kagan Structures are present in every classroom on a regular basis. Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures are step-by-step instructional strategies that increase student engagement by setting a rich, structured collaborative learning environment.


2. Full-time site-based charter schools whose mission is to serve unique populations

College and Career Preparatory Academy (older students, ages 18-25, Santa Ana) - Offered by the Orange County Department of Education, this program offers students ages 18 to 25 the opportunity to earn a high school diploma with a free study program built around their schedules. ​​​Students register and attend orientation at the main CCPA-Admin office located in Santa Ana. Once enrolled, students have an option to meet with a College and Career Preparatory Academy teacher at different locations throughout Orange County.

Samueli Academy (foster youth, Santa Ana) - Samueli Academy serves students in grades 7th through 12th. The idea for Samueli Academy started almost 20 years ago with Susan Samueli and Sandi Jackson, two local philanthropists and members of the board of directors of Orangewood Foundation. Susan and Sandi were concerned about the low high school graduation rates among teens in Orange County, including foster care teens served by Orangewood. Samueli Academy offers youth an innovative and student-centered choice for their education. This includes on-site housing for foster youth who need a stable living environment in order for them to excel academically.

Scholarship Prep Scholar (foster and homeless youth, Santa Ana) - As a network of K-8 charter schools whose mission is to close the opportunity gap for underserved students, Scholarship Prep Scholar Public Schools believes in establishing a sustainable environment where diversity is treasured. They work with local agencies to enroll and support foster and homeless youth through wraparound services. They believe in identifying how they can utilize their power to advocate for lasting change, by engaging in dialogue and reflection that leads to collective action. They seek to amplify the stories, voices, and messages of our most underserved communities. Their motto is: We must Listen. We must Learn. We must Lead.


3. Part-time site-based programs offered by charter schools

Each of these charter schools offers part-time site-based programs that are in combination with independent study. In addition, each of these schools also offers full-time Independent Study programs.

Citrus Springs Charter School (Site-based, in Santa Ana & hybrid Independent Study) -

Their Santa Ana Student Center provides an exciting learning environment for TK-8th grade students with four distinct programs:

  1. Quest Academy: Students attend classes 5 days per week at the Santa Ana Student Center’s Quest Academy. It's a project-focused, inquiry learning model that offers a unique small-school environment. Hands-on projects, core mastery, and positive interpersonal skills are the focus.

  2. Keys Career and College Prep: This is an independent-study-style education where students can work at their own pace on their own time. Students attend weekly meetings with their teachers and classmates, and they have opportunities to attend academy classes, online foreign language classes, Internships, and CTE courses where available.

  3. Homeschool Learning Center: This option offers pick-and-choose courses for students who are primarily homeschooled. These courses include art, drama, and math for K-8, and advanced mathematics, lab sciences, and language classes for high school students.

  4. Venture Online: This is a comprehensive online program that can be done anywhere, anytime, and at your child’s pace.

Compass Charter Schools (Santa Ana Learning Center). This is a hybrid charter school program for grades TK-8th, providing 2 days per week on campus, supplemented by independent study 3 days at home. The Compass Charter Schools’ Navigators Community meets 2-days/week for science, history, and engaging enrichment classes for TK-8th grade students. The community provides a perfect blend of home study and the traditional classroom as skilled & passionate teachers partner with dedicated parents to provide a solid and complete education. An active project-based environment allows scholars to interact and learn from each other. At home, curriculum choices and methods are tailored to individual needs by the learning coach (parent) and supported by the Supervising Teacher (ST).

iLEAD Exploration (Orange County Studio campus) - In iLEAD Exploration's OC Studio program literature and writing topics are explored within a historical and scientific theme. In the area of science, the studio focuses on engineering and design principles to supplement grade-level instruction taking place at home. In social studies, a studio-wide historical theme is selected. With both science and social studies, grade level content-specific standards should be studied in the home and the studio will provide resources to support this.


4. Full-time Independent Study Charter School Programs

Most of these programs have several ways for students to take classes and get together in person with teachers, staff, and other students. This may be through contracted vendors who offer classes and events to students enrolled in the school.

California Connections Academy Southern California - California Connections Academy is a network of authorized online charter schools that serves students in grades TK–12.

Epic Charter Schools - Epic Charter School is a TK through 12th-grade independent study charter school. They combine the convenience of online learning with the support of one-on-one instruction from a California-certified teacher. This blended learning model allows students and families to set their own pace with the guidance and instruction from an Epic Charter Schools teacher who meets with them face-to-face as needed.

Opportunities for Learning - Opportunities For Learning (OFL) is a free non-profit public charter independent study school, serving students ages 14 and up who have fallen behind in school, are looking to get ahead and graduate early, or simply crave a non-traditional learning environment. OFL was established in 1999 by a family genuinely and profoundly interested in the well-being of California young people. For over 16 years, OFL and its founders have helped more than 140,000 students find their passion and equip themselves with the knowledge to pursue their dreams. OFL believes in fostering student dreams.

Suncoast Preparatory Academy - The Suncoast Prep Academy (SPA) program is available for students in TK through 8th grade. Home School teachers, known as education advisors, work closely with parents to create an individualized learning plan for each student. Parents then teach their child at home and are provided with assistance, as needed, every step of the way, ensuring that each child is learning and advancing to his or her full potential. Families are connected to a large network of SPA Home School families and gain valuable interaction through group events, enrichment centers, and field trips.


If you're interested in more non-traditional educational options in Orange County, please visit our page detailing Non-Traditional Schools and Educational Programs in Orange County.


bottom of page