Charter schools are tuition-free public schools open to any state resident. Charter schools are freed from many of the regulations governing traditional public schools. They control their own curriculum, staffing, organization and budget. In exchange for this freedom, they must maximize student potential and meet and exceed Indiana’s new academic standards.
Are charter schools considered public schools?
Yes. A public school is defined as a school that is open to the public, funded by the public and accountable to the public. Charter schools meet all three tests.
Can anyone attend a charter school?
Yes. Like other public schools, charter schools must be open to every child regardless of race, religion, disability or academic ability.
Do charter schools serve special population students?
Like all public schools, charter schools are required to provide access and services to all students, including students with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency.
Are charter schools required to meet state education standards or offer standardized tests, such as ISTEP+ and End-of-Course Assessments (ECAs)?
As public schools, Indiana’s charter schools must comply with the State’s requirements for student assessment. Public Law 221 requires all public schools, including charter schools, to administer certain assessment tests and to be rated against certain criteria. These assessment tests include the ISTEP and ECA exams.
What percentage of parents are satisfied with the performance of Mayor-sponsored charter schools?
In our 2014 parent survey, 88% of parents surveyed indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the overall performance of the Mayor-sponsored charter school their child(ren) attended. Only 4% indicated that they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the performance. You can find the final report of our parent survey here. The report includes the overall results from the survey as well as results from each individual school.
Are charter schools diverse?
Yes. Nationwide, students in charter schools have similar demographic characteristics to students in all public schools. However, charter schools in some states serve significantly higher percentages of minority or economically disadvantaged students.
Must charter schools comply with federal laws and regulations?
Yes. Charter schools are subject to most of the same federal, constitutional, statutory, and regulatory requirements applicable to other public schools. However, the precise application of these laws depends on the status of the charter school under the specific provisions of federal law and the state charter schools regulation.
May a charter school be religious in nature?
No. As with other public schools, charter schools must be non-religious in their programs, admissions policies, governance, employment practices and all other operations, and the charter school’s curriculum must be completely secular. However, like other public schools, charter schools may enter into partnerships with any community group for secular purposes.
Who authorizes charter schools in the State of Indiana, and how many can be authorized?
Charter schools in Indiana can be authorized by one of the following: (1) a governing body, (2) a state educational institution that offers a four year baccalaureate degree, (3) the executive (as defined in IC § 36-1-2-5) of a consolidated city, (4) the Indiana Charter School Board, or (5) a nonprofit college or university that provides a four year educational program for which it awards a baccalaureate or more advanced degree. Unlike many states, Indiana’s legislation does not place a limit on the number of charter schools that can open in the State.
Who is eligible to organize a charter school in Indiana?
Any nonprofit entity that (a) has been determined by the IRS to be operating as a tax-exempt organization with a 501(c)(3) designation, or has applied for such determination, and (b) whose organizational documents (e.g., articles of incorporation, by-laws) include a provision that upon dissolution all remaining assets (other than funds received from the Indiana Department of Education, which must be returned to the Department) must be used for non-profit educational purposes. This may require establishment of new or separate entities by existing non-profit corporations whose current purpose is broader than education.
What is the process to start a charter school?
Please visit our "Start a School" tab for details regarding this process.
What state laws apply to charter schools?
Charter schools are public schools and as such are required to comply with all Indiana laws, except those that expressly do not apply to charter schools. For example, charter schools must comply with laws pertaining to open enrollment, special education, the unified accounting system established by the State Board of Accounts, student health and safety, compulsory school attendance, and standardized testing.
How is it determined where a charter will be located?
There are several factors that influence where a charter school chooses to locate. The availability of facilities is one important factor. Charter schools do not receive facilities funding from the state, so they have fewer resources when it comes to constructing or renovating a facility for use. Charter schools must often find an empty building that they can afford to renovate. Charter schools also focus on neighborhoods with a need for additional high-quality school options, and they often locate where there is a demonstrated need for the school model they plan to offer.
Is the community or neighborhood where the charter plans to be located part of the process?
In order to build strong community relationships and serve as a community anchor, successful schools must engage their community throughout the process. We encourage schools to both authentically engage their neighborhoods and build a local board reflective of their community.
Are teachers at charter schools highly qualified?
State law requires that at least 90% of classroom teachers in charter schools are licensed, and all Mayor-sponsored charter schools (MSCS) meet this requirement.