Charter School Authorizing

Charter School Main photo

The University of St. Thomas Charter Authorizing Program is housed within the School of Education.  Since it was founded in 2001, the UST portfolio has grown to 12 schools.

Vision
The vision of the UST Charter Authorizing Program is to authorize excellent charter schools in order to increase quality educational opportunities for all children in the Twin Cities metro area. The University of St. Thomas strives to be a national model for quality authorizing and schools’ authorizer of choice based on our competence, transparency and respect for school autonomy.

Mission
The mission of the UST Authorizing Program is to advance the common good by using quality authorizing practices to oversee and promote the health of a portfolio of charter schools that demonstrably assist students in reaching their full academic and human potential.

Each of our partnering schools brings unique characteristics to the Charter School Authorizing portfolio:

Academia Cesar Chavez

1801 Lacrosee Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55119
Phone: (651) 778-2940
Fax: (651) 778-2842

http://www.cesarchavezschool.com/

Academia Cesar Chavez opened in 2001 and serves students in grades K-6.  The school’s mission of providing a quality dual-language education which prepares critically thinking, socially competent, values driven, and culturally aware bilingual and bi-literate learners is accomplished through advocacy for Latino culture in an environment which values family and community.  Students of all backgrounds are welcomed into the school. 

Community of Peace Academy

471 Magnolia Avenue East
St. Paul, MN 55130
Phone: 651) 776-5151
Fax: (651) 771-4841

www.cpa.charter.k12.mn.us

Community of Peace Academy  was founded in 1995 and serves students in grades PK-12.  The school seeks to be a racially and culturally diverse community of students, parents, and staff, dedicated to creating a peaceful environment in which each person is treated with unconditional positive regard and acceptance.  To create such an environment, a non-violent perspective is intentionally taught and all members of the community strive to practice a non-violent lifestyle.  The school has been named a National School of Character (2003), PeaceBuilder Model Site (2005), and National Charter School of the Year (2007).  The Community of Peace High School was also identified as a Bronze Medalist in U.S. News and World Report’s ‘Best High Schools in America’ ranking.  

Face to Face Academy

1165 Arcade Street
St. Paul, MN 55106
Phone: (651) 772-5544
Fax: (651) 772-5621

http://www.f2facademy.org/

Face to Face Academy serves an at risk student population in a small, thoughtfully designed school environment.  The school outperforms state, district, and local school averages in all areas for comparable students and has been named a High Performing Charter School by the Minnesota Department of Education for three of the last four years.  The school offers a rigorous curriculum and a system for earning credit that is recognized as a model program for re-engaging high school students.  The school’s vision of graduating those most at-risk for dropping out of high school by integrating the highest quality of educational and support services is realized in part through its award-winning wilderness and outdoor program, which gives students the opportunity to earn credits and life skills while exploring the natural world.

Global Academy

4065 Central Avenue Northeast
Columbia Heights, MN 55421
Phone: (763) 404-8200
Fax: (763) 781-5260

http://www.globalacademy.us/

Global Academy opened its doors in 2008 and seeks to serve a diverse group of students in grades K-8.  The school employs an International Baccalaureate (IB) program and is committed to service in the broader world…empowered by academic rigor, graduates of Global Academy will be fully prepared for success and leadership in challenging high school programs.  The school emphasizes the character traits identified in the IB learner profile, such as being reflective, open-minded, and knowledgeable, while also placing value on students’ development of technological skills and providing opportunities for second-language acquisition. 

Hiawatha Academies

1611 East 46th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Phone: (612) 455-4004

http://hiawathaacademies.org/

Hiawatha Academies is a five-site (as of SY2019) network of schools focused on closing the opportunity gap in Minneapolis. The school’s college-preparatory program is based on inquiry, intellect and character, in keeping with its mission of empowering scholars with the knowledge, character, and leadership skills to graduate from college and serve the common good. The school has been recognized nationally for its gap-closing model and for outperforming local schools serving similar student populations, and several sites have been recognized by the Star Tribune as "Beating the Odds" schools. 

Hope Community Academy

720 Payne Avenue  
Saint Paul, MN 55130
Phone: (651) 796-4500
Fax: (651) 796-4599

http://www.hope-school.org/

HOPE Community Academy was founded in 2000 and serves students in grades PK-8.  The school’s mission is to provide students with a rigorous academic foundation, focusing on the mastery of fundamental and higher-order thinking skills that prepare them for life-long learning, while instilling in them the finest Hmong and American values.  HOPE welcomes students of all backgrounds.

Performing Institute of Minnesota Arts High School

7255 Flying Cloud Dr.
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Phone: (952) 224-1340 
Fax: (952) 224-2955

https://www.pimartshs.org/

Performing Institute of Minnesota Arts High School was founded in 2002 and serves grades 9-12.  The school strives to provide students with a rigorous education which includes Advanced Placement course options in all academic areas, as well as numerous entry-advanced level courses in music, theatre, and dance not available at most traditional high schools.  The school boasts small class sizes, personalized attention to students, and the fullest production schedule of any four year Arts High School in the Twin Cities.  Information on the school’s numerous performances is available on the school’s website.  All students are welcomed into Performing Institute of Minnesota Arts High School, and auditions are not required for admittance. 

Metro Deaf School 

1471 Brewster Street
St. Paul, MN 55108 
Phone: (651) 964-1631
Video Phone: (651) 964-1630
Fax: (651) 222-0939

http://www.mdsmn.org/

Metro Deaf School was founded in 1992 and opened its doors to students the following year, making it the second-oldest charter school in the nation.  A partner school, Minnesota North Star Academy, opened in 2004 to serve students in grades 9-12.  Over time, Metro Deaf School expanded to include an Early Childhood Special Education program for 3-5 year olds, and in 2009 the boards of the PK-8 and 9-12 schools completed a merger, with the PK-12 school  moving forward as Metro Deaf School.  Today, Metro Deaf School provides a rigorous, high quality education to students from across the metro area and parts of Wisconsin.  The school uses a Bilingual ASL/English model.

Spero Academy

2701 California Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
Phone: (612) 465-8600
Fax: (612) 465-8603

http://www.spero.academy/

Spero Academy, formerly known as Fraser Academy, is a public K-5 elementary charter school located in Northeast Minneapolis. The school strives to be a national model of inclusive and tailored education for all children with an emphasis on small class sizes and individual attention.  Through a continuous progress and a responsive environment, Spero Academy cultivates a high standard of academic and personal excellence, while creating a sense of respect, responsibility and community. In session 11 months out of the year and averaging a 1:4 educator/student ratio, the school’s mission is to provide individualized educational programs for students of all backgrounds and abilities.

St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts

16 West 5th Street
St. Paul, MN 55102
Phone: (651) 290-2225

www.spcpa.org

The St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists (SPCPA) opened its doors in 2005 and has repeatedly been recognized for its students’ superior academic achievement and for the caliber of its arts education program.   SPCPA has been recognized as a High Quality Charter School by MDE and serves grades 9-12.  The school lives its mission to provide the highest caliber of academic and artistic education for aspiring pre-professional performing artists in the areas of instrumental and vocal music, theatre and dance and to fully prepare students for college and conservatory. Teaching staff in all academic subjects are traditionally trained and licensed, and the school’s arts departments are headed by a full-time ‘chair,’ and additionally contract with working artists for courses relevant to their area of expertise.  The school’s arts faculty have worked in many of Minnesota’s most known and respected venues/companies including the Minnesota Opera, Guthrie Theater, Illusion Theater, Southern Theater, and the Ordway Center.

Twin Cities Academy 

690 Birmingham Street
St. Paul, MN 55106 
Phone: (651) 205-4797 
Fax: (651) 205-4799

http://twincitiesacademy.org/

Twin Cities Academy was founded in 1999 and serves grades 6-12. As a college preparatory middle and high school, Twin Cities Academy is committed to providing opportunities and experiences that will allow our students to be and do their very best, assisting all our students to meet educational goals and begin developing important and lifelong skills. The school has been the recipient of numerous awards, particularly for high academic achievement. The school was one of only a handful statewide to be identified as a Reward School for six years in a row and for several years the high school program was the only Reward High School in Minneapolis and St. Paul.  

Twin Cities German Immersion School

1031 Como Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55103
Phone: (651) 492-7106
Fax: (651) 330-2270
Email: info@tcgis.org

http://www.tcgis.org/

Twin Cities German Immersion School was founded in 2005 and serves grades K-8.  The school’s mission is innovative education of the whole child through German immersion, and in recent years 100% of graduating students have passed reading, listening, and speaking standards for German proficiency as measured by the German state’s language assessments.  The school values intercultural engagement and employs a variety of staff including interns from German-speaking countries.  The Twin Cities German Immersion School has a long track record of strong academic performance and has been recognized as a Reward School by the Minnesota Department of Education.

Q: What is a Charter School?

A: A charter school is a free, public school open to any student who wishes to enroll. Charter schools receive additional flexibility under Minnesota Statutes 124E.01 and in return are held accountable for results by authorizers. Charter schools are independent and have their own school boards separate from those of traditional district schools.

Q: What is an authorizer?

A: Authorizers provide oversight to charter schools by using a clear performance framework to monitor their financial, academic, and organizational outcomes, as well as compliance with the law. Authorizers protect charter school autonomy by leaving management decisions to schools’ boards and directors. Authorizers push mediocre schools to improve, set high expectations for new schools, and close underperforming schools, all with the hope of improving students’ access to a great education. As articulated by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, “effective authorizing is critical to the quality of the charter school movement and to the lives of the more than two million children who attend charter schools nationwide.”

Q: Why does the University of St. Thomas authorize charter schools?

A: The Authorizing Program is one way in which UST can work to meet its mission of educating morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good. In its current strategic priorities document The University of St. Thomas expresses its desire to be ‘in and of the city,’ and to ‘seek to find ways of being educationally relevant and responsive to the changing needs of our community.’ We believe that quality authorizing assists in the creation and maintenance of quality schools and work toward a reality in which all students and families have access to high-quality educational options. UST is uniquely positioned to offer a high quality authorizing program due to the large number of faculty members with expertise in areas relevant to authorizing. The current Charter Accountability Board brings together experts in school finance, accounting, gifted and special education, general education, and governance from across the various colleges and schools that make up the broader University.

Q: What criteria does UST use to select the schools in its network?

A: When determining whether an existing or developing charter school is a good fit for the UST authorizing program a rigorous, multi-step application process is employed and the areas of academic, financial, and organizational health are assessed. For existing schools, this includes an examination of the application narrative, three years’ worth of data on student performance, audits, annual reports, and a variety of other information. UST also conducts a site visit and interviews key school stakeholders. Developing schools hoping to secure their first charter undergo a similar process with a detailed application and founding-team interview to assist UST in determining whether the proposed charter has a high potential for success. The processes for both existing and developing schools are available in the Authorizer Manual posted in the Charter School Resources section of the website. Once a school’s quality or potential quality has been established, the authorizing program works to determine whether the school’s mission and vision are compatible with that of UST: Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of St. Thomas educates students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good. UST expects the schools in its network to have strong mission statements that answer community needs and offer something unique. The schools in the UST Charter School Network are expected to use their mission statements to drive their programmatic success.

Q: Are the charter schools authorized by the University of St. Thomas ‘lab’ schools?

A: The schools in the UST Charter School Network are not ‘lab’ schools and are not obligated to partner with UST in any way. Schools that are interested in relationships outside of authorization, for example, serving as a host site for student teachers or receiving volunteers through the Tutor-Mentor program, may reach out to the appropriate staff in those departments. In order to prevent conflicts of interest, the Authorizing Program does not coordinate or oversee these additional relationships and utilizes a Conflict of Interest Policy (available in the Charter School Resources section of the website) to ensure that UST charter schools maintain their full autonomy.

The University of St. Thomas Charter Accountability Board (CAB) meets monthly to discuss the progress of authorized schools and makes recommendations to the Dean of the School of Education.  Members of the board, including ex-officio, non-voting members are:

Mufaddal H. Baxamusa, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Board Member

Mufaddal Baxamusa is an associate professor in the finance department. His research focuses on mergers and acquisitions, capital structure, the choices between different investment decisions, and the human aspects underlying decisions in finance. He is widely published in leading academic journals, including Financial Management, and presents at prestigious national conferences, including the annual meeting of the American Finance Association. Baxamusa earned his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from George Washington University. Dr. Baxamusa is uniquely qualified for service on the charter accountability board as his professional interests and scholarship include both organizational governance and finance.

Robert J. Brown, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus and Board Member

Dr. Brown previously served 10 years in the Minnesota State Senate and is a founding member of the Minnesota State Charter School Advisory Board. He has also served on several other advisory committees such as the Board of Advisers to the St. Thomas School of Education, the Minnesota Department of Education, the Board of the Constitutional Education Foundation and the Minnesota State Board of Medical Practice. While serving as Chairman for The National Association of State Boards of Education, Dr. Brown was a member of a NASBE study group that prepared the report A More Perfect Union: Building an Education System that Embraces All Children. In December 2000, he published (with co-author Jeff Cornwall) The Entrepreneurial Educator, a book to help school leaders function in today’s competitive marketplace. In addition to completing (with Joe Scherer) Six Ways to Make Government Work for You, a book to assist educational leaders in dealing with policy makers at all levels of government, Dr. Brown is the editor of the book series Innovations in Education for Rowman Education Press. He holds a B.S. in math and speech from Winona State University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in education administration and psychology from the University of Minnesota.

Kathlene Holmes Campbell, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Education

Dr. Campbell earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to her current position, she led the clinically-oriented teacher preparation program with the National Center for Teacher Residencies and worked with California State University campuses associated with the New Generation of Educators Initiative. Dr. Campbell also spent seven years as a consultant with the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education, conducting professional development on effective, research-based instructional strategies for diverse student populations for public school systems in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota. At the university level, she has served as an instructor at the University of Texas and professor of education, director of preparation, and interim dean of education at Florida State College. She started her career as a public school teacher in Tampa, Florida, and then in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Michael L. DeVaughn, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Accounting and Board Member

Michael L. DeVaughn teaches in the undergraduate business and part-time and full-time MBA programs at the University of St. Thomas. Prior to arriving at St. Thomas in 2008, DeVaughn taught at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota in the school's undergraduate business and part-time and full-time MBA programs. He has taught courses in organizational behavior, strategic management and strategic leadership. DeVaughn's research interests include organizational learning and entrepreneurship. Specifically, his work focuses on the role of different types and forms of experience in entrepreneurial founding teams and their implications for new firm outcomes.

Before his academic career, DeVaughn spent nearly 10 years working for Ralston Purina, PepsiCo and Fleet Financial Group (now Bank of America), where he was a vice president in the bank's Commercial Services Group. DeVaughn holds an undergraduate degree in economics and organizational behavior and management from Brown University, an MBA in marketing and human resources management from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in business (strategy and organization theory) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jan L. Frank, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Education and Board Member

Dr. Frank is currently an associate professor in the School of Education. Before joining the faculty at the University of St. Thomas in fall 2011, Dr. Frank was a faculty member for 21 years at St. Cloud State University, teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses in teacher preparation and professional development and serving as department chair. Dr. Frank is a Wisconsin native and taught at the high school level in English and speech prior to moving to Minnesota. She received both her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and her doctorate in urban education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her areas of professional interest include culturally responsive teaching, social justice, teachers and change and curriculum development.

Stephanie Grimm, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Accounting and Board Member

Stephanie Dehning Grimm received a Ph.D. degree in business administration (accounting) and a Master of Accountancy from the University of Minnesota in 2009, and a B.S./B.A. degree from Boston University in 2000. Grimm also earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 2003. Dr. Grimm's research interests include accounting quality issues, internal controls, the role of the internal audit function, corporate governance and incorporating writing in the accounting curriculum.

Molly McGraw Healy, M.P.P., Director of Charter School Authorizing and Ex Officio Board Member

Molly McGraw Healy joined the University of St. Thomas in 2011 after serving, first as program coordinator, and later as senior manager of the Volunteers of America, Minnesota (VOA-MN) charter school authorizing program. Prior to this assignment McGraw Healy worked in the Minnesota Legislature’s House Research Department as a research assistant specializing in education policy. McGraw Healy earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Education, with a concentration in French, at St. Olaf College. In 2010, after several years of classroom teaching in charter and traditional public school settings, she earned her Masters's of Public Policy, with an emphasis on education and charter school policy, from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. As an active member of the authorizing community, McGraw Healy has presented at National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) Conferences and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Conference, as well as served as a consultant to the District of Columbia Charter School Board, the Ohio Authorizer Collaborative, Nevada Public Charter School Authority, the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office and the Indiana Charter School Board. In 2012, McGraw Healy was one of 10 authorizers selected by NACSA to participate in the inaugural cohort of their Leadership Program. She currently maintains Minnesota teaching licensures in both English and French and was recently re-elected Chair of the Minnesota Association of Charter School Authorizers.

Lynn Stansberry-Brusnahan, Ph.D., Professor and Board Member

A 2007 Ph.D. graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Dr. Lynn Stansberry-Brusnahan used to train Delta Air Lines flight attendants. The birth of a son with autism pointed her to her next career. Now, she is one of just a handful of faculty members in the country with a specialty in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Under her guidance, the University of St. Thomas has developed a highly successful certificate program in autism spectrum disorders. Appointed by Governor Jim Doyle, Dr. Stansberry-Brusnahan currently serves on the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities and is a member of the Autism Society of America Board of Directors.

John Spry, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Board Member

John A. Spry is an associate professor in the finance department. He earned his B.S. in economics at Ohio State University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in economics at the University of Rochester. His current areas of research are state and local public finance, the economics of state lotteries, the effects of tax rates on tax bases and applied non-parametric econometrics. He was a member of the Minnesota Governor's 21st Century Tax Reform Commission.

Molly McGraw Healy, Director of Charter School Authorizing

Molly McGraw Healy joined the University of St. Thomas in 2011 after serving first as program coordinator and later as senior manager of the Volunteers of America, Minnesota (VOA-MN) charter school authorizing program. Prior to this assignment, McGraw Healy worked in the Minnesota Legislature’s House Research Department as a research assistant specializing in education policy. McGraw Healy earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Education, with a concentration in French, at St. Olaf College. In 2010, after several years of classroom teaching in charter and traditional public school settings, she earned her Master's of Public Policy, with an emphasis on education and charter school policy, from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. As an active member of the authorizing community, McGraw Healy has presented at National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) Conferences and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Conference, as well as served as a consultant to the District of Columbia Charter School Board, the Ohio Authorizer Collaborative, Nevada Public Charter School Authority, the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office and the Indiana Charter School Board. In 2012, McGraw Healy was one of 10 authorizers selected by NACSA to participate in the inaugural cohort of their Leadership Program. She currently maintains Minnesota teaching licensures in both English and French and has served as chair of the Minnesota Association of Charter School Authorizers since August 2013.

Aaliyah Hodge, Authorizing Program Coordinator

As the authorizing program coordinator, Aaliyah Hodge serves as the point of contact for schools in the STU portfolio. She is also charged with tracking and analyzing school-related data and researching education related policies. Prior to Aaliyah joining the STU team, she worked as the compliance director for the Harvest Network of Schools and was a sixth grade paraprofessional. She is also a member of the Minneapolis Commission on Civil Rights and the current president of People for PSEO, a non-profit that focuses on advocacy and expanding the PSEO program.

Aaliyah has a master's in social policy and community economic development from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. And in her free time, Aaliyah enjoys spending time with friends, traveling and baking.

Dana J. Peterson, Assistant Director of Charter School Authorizing

Dana Peterson brings a broad range of experience in charter school development and nonprofit management to the assistant director position. As the director of Education for the 21st Century at LEED-Sacramento, Dana guided the development of research-based redesign plans for nine high schools in Sacramento City Unified School District. She also supported the establishment and growth of a preK-12 charter school system in Sacramento, California, where she served in a variety of capacities including school principal, director of operations and director of new site development. Additionally, she managed the chartering process for two new schools and led two schools through successful charter renewals. These experiences led her to serve as an advisor to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson where she oversaw initiatives in the areas of homelessness, arts, community service and education. Dana then returned home to Minnesota after serving as the development chief of staff for an education policy nonprofit. Prior to joining the University of St. Thomas authorizing team, she worked as a consultant for education, philanthropic and nonprofit organizations undertaking projects such as the development of charter school accountability plans and the design of a funded program to disseminate charter school best practices. She has served on the Girls on the Run Twin Cities Board and the Big Picture Twin Cities board.

Dana grew up in Apple Valley, Minnesota. She earned her bachelor of arts degree from Carleton College and a master of education degree from Harvard University. In her free time, Dana enjoys being outdoors, running, cooking and walking her chocolate lab Oliver.

If you are interested in joining the UST Charter School Portfolio, please view our UST Charter School Authorizing Program Manual to learn more.

University of St. Thomas 2016-17 Charter Authorizing Program Manual

The program manual is a comprehensive description of the university’s authorizing program. In addition to background information and department policies and protocols, the program manual also includes descriptions and necessary documents for every procedure—both mandatory and optional—that a new or existing charter school may undertake. A printable PDF version can be accessed by clicking the link above.

Approved Authorizing Plan (AAP) Narrative