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Charter schools are public schools that operate independently. They started in 1992 in California and there are now 1,184 of them, with over 547,800 students, according to the California Charter Schools Association.

The schools are scattered around San Diego; tucked away in shopping malls, churches, inside some district schools or in privately rented office building. In their early years, most charter schools couldn’t afford to purchase their own facilities. So they ended up renting space – either from a school district or from private owners.

In this week’s San Diego Explained, VOSD’s Mario Koran and San Diego NBC 7’s Monica Dean describe what charter schools are, how they operate and why you’ve seen some popping up in unexpected places.

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