Indianapolis Charter Schools
Operating independently of traditional school district policies, Indianapolis charter schools are free, autonomous public schools that have the flexibility to innovate in the way they educate students while still being held accountable for advancing student achievement.
Public charter school facts
- Indiana charter schools are public schools—they are free to attend and open to all students for enrollment.
- Independent charter schools operate independently of a traditional school district.
- They are governed by a nonprofit board of directors.
- Public charter schools give school leaders the autonomy and flexibility to create new models for instruction that meet specific student needs.
- They are held accountable for advancing student achievement by their charter authorizer and the Indiana State Department of Education.
In Indianapolis, the mayor has the power to authorize public charter schools through the Office of Education Innovation. The office is responsible for overseeing the academics, finances, and operations of mayor-sponsored public charter schools that educate about 18,000 students across the city.
Enrollment in Indianapolis Charter Schools
For the 2020–21 school year:
- 22,919 students attend a public charter school
- 84% of students attending charter schools are students of color
- 79% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch
- 51% of students attending a public school within IPS boundaries are enrolled in a public charter school
FAQs about Indianapolis charter schools
Yes, all Indiana charter schools, including those institutions located in Indianapolis, are tuition-free. They are publicly-funded but privately-operated.
During the current (2022–23) school year, 62 charter schools were operating in Indianapolis, including 17 schools whose launch was supported by The Mind Trust.
In 2001, Indianapolis became the first U.S. city to grant its mayor the power to authorize charter schools.
Attending a charter school in Indianapolis is optional. Parents get to make the decision on where to send their child to learn.
Like other public schools, the state of Indiana requires charter schools in Indianapolis to follow open enrollment laws. This means that any child eligible to attend a district public school in Indianapolis—regardless of race, religion, disability, language proficiency, or academic ability—is eligible to attend an Indianapolis charter school.
Indiana’s charter schools ranked number one in the U.S. for the seventh year in a row, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
The state of Indiana has passed laws that mandate at least 90% of an Indianapolis charter school’s classroom teachers must be licensed. At mayor-sponsored Indianapolis charter schools, teachers must have a license or be in the process of getting their license.
No, charter schools operate outside the IPS school district, whereas Innovation Network Schools operate inside of IPS.
However, there are some similarities between both types of schools. Leaders at charter schools, like those at Innovation Network Schools, decide what’s best for their students and are free to innovate at the individual school level.