Charter Schools

Charter schools are independent public schools of choice for parents and students. The first charter schools in the nation opened in Minnesota in 1992, and they continue to be a popular choice for students seeking an alternative to traditional public schools. Currently, there are 168 charter schools in operation in Minnesota serving approximately 63,000 pre-K through grade 12 students. There are also 39 officially recognized early learning programs in Minnesota charter schools.

Charter schools are open to all students and offer a unique educational program where students can expect to receive a quality education based on results. The primary purpose of charter schools in Minnesota is to improve learning achievement for all students and strive for the world’s best workforce.

Charter schools do not charge admission, nor do they have admission requirements to enroll students. They employ licensed teachers and offer services to special needs students. Charter school students are required to take state and national assessments.

New charter schools with exciting programs open their doors to students every year. Parents are encouraged to contact charter schools directly to find out about the type of programs offered.

Charter schools are organized under Minnesota Statues 124E. and to serve students in Minnesota, a charter school must have an authorizer. An authorizer can be a school board or intermediate school district school board, other education districts, charitable organizations, institutions of higher education, a nonprofit corporation subject to Chapter 317A or single purpose authorizers. An authorizer:
·         Provides oversight of charter schools in the areas of academic, operational and financial performance;
·         Evaluates the academic, operational and financial performance of charter schools in its portfolio;
·         Determines the terms for charter school contract renewals; and
·         Reviews proposed changes to charter schools its portfolio, such as site and grade expansions,  site changes, the addition of early learning programs and more

Commissioner-approved Charter School Authorizers
View a complete list of commissioner-approved charter school authorizers, including contact information and the schools they authorize, at MDE-ORG.

Charter School Directory
Find a complete list of charter schools in Minnesota, including contact information, in the MDE-ORG database.


The charter school/authorizer dispute resolution system is designed to ensure that all charter schools and authorizers are operating within legal compliance.

Parents, individuals, or organizations may file a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) if they believe a charter school or authorizer has violated state requirements. MDE encourages that any such disputes be resolved first by working with either the charter school’s board, or its authorizer.

We are currently updating our complaint form. Please send an email to with the details of your complaint. A member of the Charter Center team will follow up with you.

For information on the Special Education or Student Maltreatment complaint process, see Related MDE Resources.

How to File a Charter School/Authorizer Complaint