Blog | May 31, 2023

What is a Public Charter School?

Do you want to know the truth about charter schools? Learn more about public charter school facts in Indiana and Indianapolis. 

Public charter schools are tuition-free and open to all students. They operate independently of traditional school district policies and have the flexibility to innovate in how they serve students. This autonomy at the school leader level means public charter school leaders can make decisions that are in the best interests of their students and families. 

This flexibility matches with rigorous accountability. Public charter schools have high standards for advancing student achievement and remaining fiscally sound.

Things to Know About Public Charter Schools

Indianapolis charter schools are public schools. That means they are free to attend and open to all students. Charter schools cannot deny students for any reason and must provide special education services and accommodations like any other public school. 

Autonomy differentiates charter schools from traditional public schools. When it comes to Indianapolis charter schools, autonomy means school leaders have the freedom to make decisions for their individual school that can best meet their students’ and families’ needs. This freedom means diverse, innovative leaders can launch new models that are co-created with their communities and reflective of the cultural backgrounds of their student population.

The Mind Trust is integral in the growth and success of Indianapolis charter schools. Our School Fellowships have helped 27 talented, experienced school leaders bring their ideas to fruition in the form of public charter and innovation schools. These schools will serve more than 21,000 students.

High Standards for Public Charter Schools

Charter schools are held to high standards of accountability that meet or even exceed the level of accountability for traditional public schools. In Indianapolis, charter schools experience three levels of accountability.

  1. Nonprofit Board – A nonprofit board governs every Indianapolis charter school, providing governance and oversight. These boards include diverse, local community members and professionals who each bring a specific expertise, in areas like finance, operations, legal, academics, or community engagement. 
  1. Charter Authorizer – In order to operate as a public school, Indianapolis charter schools must receive authorization from a formal body. The Indianapolis Mayor’s Office authorizes most Indianapolis charter schools. Indianapolis is actually the first state in the country to give the mayor, a democratically elected official, authorizing power over charter schools. The Indianapolis Mayor’s Office oversees the academics, finances, and operations of mayor-sponsored public charter schools that educate about 18,000 students across the city. If a school’s authorizer determines the school is failing to meet expectations, it can revoke their charter which means the school can no longer operate. 
  1. Indiana Department of Education – The third layer of accountability for public charter schools is the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE). If a charter school is not advancing student achievement, the IDOE has the power to intervene.

Find a Public Charter School that Meets Your Needs

Are you looking for better public school options for your students? Start by exploring over 40 school options using either our school listing or our interactive map of the schools we have helped to launch in Indianapolis. 

You will find Indianapolis elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools that offer things like college and career prep, dual language, placed-based and environmental learning, and more.