Charter Schools in Missouri
In Missouri, charter schools are located within the boundaries of the Kansas City
Public Schools and the St. Louis Public Schools. Charter schools may also be located
in other Missouri districts dependent upon the accreditation of each district.
As of March 2020 there are 20 LEAs in Kansas City operating within 40 buildings and 16
LEAs in St. Louis operating within 36 buildings.
Nationally, 44 states, Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico have charter school
legislation and provide educational services in 7,500 plus charter schools to over 3.3
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a charter school?
A charter school is a public school located within the boundary of an existing school
district that is governed by a separate, independent school board. Charter schools
are free and open to all students in the districts where they operate. The charter
school board has the responsibility for only that particular charter school. In exchange
for the independence from the surrounding school district, charter schools operate
under contracts (or “charters”) and are accountable for specific results. The charters
outline specific academic and non-academic goals that the charter school must reach
or risk being closed by the sponsor. A charter school could also be closed for failing
to operate in a responsible manner.
What is a “sponsor”?
A “sponsor” is an entity that, under state law, is allowed to open, oversee, renew
and close charter schools. The sponsor is the entity that has the authority to approve
a charter school to open and then holds the charter school accountable for all conditions
in their charter. In other states, sponsors are called “authorizers”.
The charter school sponsor provides oversight by:
- Monitoring the outcomes for which the school agrees to be held responsible.
- Determining the manner in which progress toward the outcomes will be measured.
- Assessing the school’s ability to reach its goals.
- Taking action toward renewing the charter, placing the school on probation, or revoking
How are charter public schools accountable?
Charter public schools are accountable in many of the same ways traditional public
schools are held accountable. However, unique accountability expectations exist for
Each charter public school:
- Must have a sponsor in order to open and continue operating (in Missouri, sponsors
are typically colleges and universities).
- Is accountable to its sponsor for specific academic and non-academic outcomes outlined
in the school “charter” (or contract).
- Most importantly, a charter school is accountable to the students attending the school
and their families. If a charter public school is not delivering value to the families
enrolled in the school, the school will close regardless of performance or promises.
- Can be closed by their sponsors for failing to meet their contractual obligations.
Where are charter schools located in Missouri?
Under current Missouri law, charter public schools are only allowed to operate in:
- The Kansas City and St. Louis school districts.
- In a school district that has been declared unaccredited or classified as provisionally
accredited and has received scores on its annual performance report consistent with
a classification of provisionally accredited or unaccredited for three consecutive
- In an accredited school district with the school board acting as the sponsor.
Who can attend a charter public school?
In Missouri, charter public schools are only allowed to operate in specific school
districts. Only students residing within the boundaries of districts in which charter
schools are located are eligible to enroll in charter schools.
Are charter schools diverse?
Yes. Charter schools have similar demographic characteristics as traditional public
schools. Specific charter schools may choose to target a specific population (i.e.
high-risk students, high school drop outs, or specific cultural populations.)
Can students with special needs attend charter schools?
Yes. Like all public schools, charter schools are required to accept students with
disabilities, with limited English proficiency, or those who are considered “high-
What are the similarities/differences between charter schools and traditional public
- Open enrollment is required until capacity is reached. Lottery system may be necessary.
- Special Education services are required.
- Federal programs and grants may be used.
- Charter schools must participate in statewide assessment.
- The governing board of charter schools is appointed, not elected.
- Teacher certification – 20 percent of teaching staff is allowed to be non-certificated.
- High-risk designation is mandated by Missouri statutes.
- Capacity is limited.
- Charter schools are exempt from all laws other than the specific statutes governing
Missouri charter schools.
- The sponsor receives 1.5 percent of per-pupil funding to sponsors for oversight expenses.
- The school may be closed if it fails to meet the tenants of the charter.
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