Charter schools: Public schools with focus, flexibility

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner
A colorful sign marks the front of Dził Ditł’ooí School of Empowerment on March 1 in Navajo, New Mexico.

(Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series about schools on the Navajo Nation.)


Dził Ditł’ooí School Of Empowerment, Action And Perseverance, or DEAP School, works to root students in the Diné culture of the Red Lake area, an ambition made possible by its status as a charter school.

The Navajo Nation has four charter schools, with two on the Arizona side and two on the New Mexico side. DEAP School became the second on the New Mexico side when it received approval from the New Mexico Public Education Commission in 2014.

The reader will generally associate charter schools with private education, but they essentially function as public schools. The association comes from the misunderstanding that all charter schools run on private funding.

“A lot of people have a misconception about what charter schools are and how they function,” Curriculum Director Kayla Dawn Begay said.

DEAP School is a public New Mexico charter school, so they get money from the state.

Each charter school can have a completely different mission or identity, because they function under a charter.

What’s a charter, you say?

A charter is a kind of founding document or a contract between a governing entity and the organization that runs the school. DEAP School sought its charter through New Mexico.

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Categories: Education

About Author

Christopher S. Pineo

Reporter Christopher S. Pineo's beats include education, construction, the executive branch, and pop culture. He also administers the Navajo Times Facebook page. In the diverse neighborhoods of Boston, Pineo worked, earned a master’s in journalism, and gained 10 years of newspaper experience. He can be reached at