This paper discusses how building the capacity of charter school boards of directors to
govern more effectively could contribute to improving accountability in Minnesota. State
legislation has enacted an elaborate system of charter school accountability that is intended to
submit schools to accountability from three main sources: bureaucratic authority, market and
performance. Yet, more than 15 years after the first charter school opened in Minnesota, there is
compelling evidence to suggest that this system is not effective. Though many stakeholders play
a role in this failure, charter school boards of directors play a unique role in holding schools
accountable, as they lie at the confluence of regulatory, market and performance accountability.
They have a statutory obligation to conduct fiduciary oversight to ensure that their schools
conduct themselves legally and responsibly. The board is a key party in a performance contract
with the school’s authorizer. Unlike other stakeholders in the charter school accountability
system, boards of directors have decision making authority at the school site level. Given this
unique role, charter school boards have a unique opportunity to help build capacity for better
charter school accountability in Minnesota. This paper outlines a vision for how charter school
boards of directors can build their own capacity for effective governance by systematizing
fiduciary oversight, building capacity for policy development and effectively evaluating
performance. This increased capacity can help improve how charter schools in Minnesota are
Professional paper for the fulfillment of the Masters of Public Policy
Building Board Governance Capacity to Improve Charter School Accountability in Minnesota.
Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
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