Online Learning Provider Approval Process
State law (Minn. Stat. § 124D.095) requires the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to “review and approve” all of the online public schools that enroll students full-time (100% online courses) or those who enroll online students on a part-time basis from outside a school’s district. Any school that delivers online instruction to a non-resident student or is delivering 50 percent or more of a student’s instruction online is required to become an approved MDE provider. Only approved OLL providers generate funding.
Approved Program Criteria
The process for becoming an approved provider is initiated by Minnesota public school providers (limited to public school districts, intermediate districts, school districts operating under a Joint Powers of Agreement (JPA), and charter schools) that provide online learning. The process includes review and approval by MDE.
Initial OLL Provider Application Process
Minnesota public school providers seeking approval must send a Letter of Intent to MDE at least 12 months prior to enrolling any online students. Once MDE receives the Letter of Intent, the department will contact the school to go over the application process. Once MDE receives a completed application, the department has 90 days to review, consider, and subsequently recommend or deny approval of the applicant. The length of the process depends on how quickly the provider submits the application.
Online Programs Not Needing Approval
Schools that offer online courses only to resident students on a part-time basis (for example during a study hall) are not required to seek MDE approval, either. However, MDE encourages all school administrators to consider applying for provider approval even if they don't currently meet this criteria, so they can be ready to expand their programs at any time.