Learning and Serving Since 1992
Metro Deaf School (MDS) was established in 1992 by teachers, parents and community members under Minnesota’s new charter school law; the school opened the following year, September 1993, serving students K-8; the school expanded to include an Early Childhood Special Education program for 3-5 year olds in 1998.
MDS was the first Deaf charter school in the country and the third oldest in Minnesota and the US! The school served thirteen students its first year and grew over the years, in three different locations, to as many as 80 students. In 2008, the enrollment for MDS averaged around 60 students.
Minnesota North Star Academy (MNSA) was created to meet the needs of students in grades 9-12 as families associated with MDS and other families from the metro area wanted a similar bilingual program in a day setting to meet the needs of high school students. MNSA was chartered in 2002 and opened in 2004. As with MDS, it served students from the 7-county metro area and western Wisconsin; its average enrollment was 30 students.
In 2008, it was determined by both respective school boards that the school would benefit from merging the programs, thus creating a PreK to 12th grade program, on one site. This was a historic move of its kind, as the first time two charter schools had merged. MDS had a newly renovated site with property adjacent to the school that could support a new addition. After a year of hard work and planning, Metro Deaf School and Minnesota North Star Academy officially merged on July 1, 2009. New construction began in spring 2009 and was completed in August 2009. A new building which housed high school classes and a regulation-size gymnasium for the entire school opened to students on September 8, 2009.
When the schools merged, MDS-MNSA had representatives from both previous school boards and other newly elected members seated on the board. Both schools retained their Directors. In September 2010 the Board determined the school would go forward as Metro Deaf School, dropping Minnesota North Star Academy from its name but still serving students PK-12.
In 2019, after the increase of student numbers impeding on available space, Metro Deaf School moved into a new 56,000 square foot space at 1125 Energy Park Drive in Saint Paul, MN. in 2022, MDS averaged 125 students, doubling in size from 2008. In 2022, MDS announced the opening of a birth-3 program for fall of 2022.
Metro Deaf School continues to lead the way in special education charter schools in the country.