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History of Charter Schools

The State laws for developing and regulating charter schools in Missouri were created in 1998 and were last amended in 2016. Missouri differs in who oversees charter schools. Nationally, almost 90 percent of charter schools are authorized by a local school district, but in Missouri, charter schools are authorized by universities or colleges, a statutorily created commission, or by the local school district, such as KCPS.

The current legislation allows the development of charter schools throughout the entire state of 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 years.
  • In an accredited school district with the school board acting as the sponsor.

There are some similarities and differences between charter schools and traditional public schools.


  • 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.
  • Participation in the statewide assessment is required.


  • The governing board of charter schools is appointed, not elected.
  • Teacher certification – 20 percent of teaching staff in a charter school is allowed to be non-certificated.
  • High-risk designation is mandated by Missouri statutes.
  • Charter School student enrollment 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 charter school may be closed if it fails to meet the tenants of the charter.

Guidance on becoming a charter school is provided by the Missouri Charter Public School Association, an association supporting the advancement of Charter schools in Missouri.

New School Development Guide

Additional information can be found on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website.

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