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More about charter school authorizers

The Minnesota charter school law was first enacted in 1991. In 2009, Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed and the Minnesota Legislature enacted several significant changes to the law, which redefined the role and responsibilities of authorizers.

Minnesota charter schools have grown steadily to a total of 152 schools serving more than 35,000 public school districts. Minnesota also has one of the highest authorizer-to-school ratios in the country with 47 authorizers overseeing those 152 schools.

The Minnesota Department of Education works closely with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers to develop its authorizer approval application process.

According to the MDE:

Organizations wishing to become authorizers must submit an application to the commissioner for approval.

The commissioner must then approve or disapprove an application within 60 business days of the application deadline. If the commissioner denies the application, the commissioner must notify the applicant of the deficiencies and the applicant will then have 20 business days to re-submit an application to the commissioner.

Should an applicant not meet these requirements, it becomes ineligible to authorize charter schools.

The MDE is conducting two evaluation cycles - one for the current school year and one for the 2010-11 school year.

The submission deadline for the current application cycle is March 31, 2010. An authorizer that chartered a school before Aug. 1, 2009, must apply by June 30, 2011, if it wishes to continue to authorize charter schools.

The deadline for authorizer applicants to fix MDE-documented deficiencies is June 14.

An approval by the commissioner means that the authorizer's documented practices meets the statutory requirements for authorizing. A length of time is also given to approvals (one to five years).

A disapproval by the Commissioner means the MDE has found the authorizer's practices do not meet the statutory requirements. If the applicant currently authorizes a charter school and does not earn approval, they will no longer be able to enter into new or renew established charter school contracts.