What is a public charter school?

Public charter schools play a significant role in Indiana’s educational landscape, offering an alternative model of schooling that prioritizes innovation, choice, and accountability. But often there is some confusion surrounding this type of school. Are they free? Do they accept students with disabilities? Are they public? If you’ve had any of the above questions, you’ve come to the right place.

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.

Public charter school facts

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