Minnesota’s public charter schools are held accountable by parents, authorizers and the state of Minnesota in a variety of ways:
- As schools of choice, parents hold a public charter school accountable by having seats on the board of directors and having the ability to withdraw their children if the school does not perform.
- An authorizer holds a public charter school accountable through a contract and ongoing monitoring and oversight. The authorizer has the power and responsibility to terminate a charter school contract if a school is not performing in terms of academic, financial or operational performance.
- The state of Minnesota holds a public charter school accountable through ongoing reporting and compliance audits. The Minnesota Department of Education has the power to terminate a charter school contract for ongoing failure to perform or for violation of law.
Public charter schools, in fact, have the highest level of accountability of any kind of public institution in the state of Minnesota because charter schools can be closed down for failure to meet performance goals in the charter contract, financial mismanagement, or major violations of the law.
FORMS OF CHARTER SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY
- Charter Contract
The authorization of a charter must be in the form of a written contract, signed by the authorizer and the board of directors of the charter school, that outlines the academic and operational performance goals of the school during the term of the charter.
- Annual Public Reports
A charter school must publish an annual report approved by its board of directors. The annual report must at least include information on: school enrollment, student attrition, governance and management, staffing, finances, academic performance, operational performance, innovative practices and implementation, and future plans. The annual report must also include information on the implementation of professional development plans for persons in administrative, supervisory or instructional leadership roles who do not hold a valid administrative license.
The annual report must be distributed to the school’s authorizer, school employees, and parents and legal guardians of students enrolled in the school.
The annual report may be distributed by publication, mail or electronic means, and must be posted on the school’s official website. The annual reports are public data under MN Statutes 13.
- Annual Audit
A charter school must submit an audit report to the Commissioner of Education and its authorizer by December 31st of each year. The report must include a copy of all charter school agreements for corporate management services, including the company's parent corporation; as well as agreements for other administrative, financial and staffing services.
If the audit report finds that a material weakness exists in the financial reporting systems of the charter school, the school must submit a written report to the Commissioner of Education explaining how the material weakness will be resolved.
- Statewide Accountability Requirements - Standards and Assessments
Charter schools are subject to and accountable for implementing state academic standards, and charter school students are required to take all mandated state tests and assessments (MCA's).