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 second charter to officially open in the state (and in the United States, since Minnesota was the first state to have charter schools). The school served thirteen students its first year and grew over the years, in three different locations, to as many as 80 students. The typical enrollment for MDS has been between 68-74 students from the 7-county metro area and western Wisconsin.
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 has been between 30-35 students.
During 2008 it was determined by both respective school boards that the school would benefit from merging the programs, thus creating a Pre-K-12 program, on one site. MDS had a newly renovated site with property adjacent to the school that could support a new addition. After 12+ months of very intensive work, Metro Deaf School and Minnesota North Star Academy officially merged on July 1, 2009 although much work was being done prior to the July 1st date. New construction, started in spring 2009, was completed in August 2009. A new building to house high school classes and a regulation-size gymnasium for the entire school opened to students on September 8, 2009. Metro Deaf School-Minnesota North Star Academy is now one school serving 100 students from 44 school districts. The efforts of many made this newly merged school a possibility and provides another educational option to deaf and hard-of-hearing students throughout the metro area and western Wisconsin.
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.