State of Denial: How Do Charter Schools Meet the Needs of Students in Special Education?
The Los Angeles School Board is presented with a report detailing the discrepancies in enrollment between charter and public schools.
“These large special education enrollment differences raise serious questions about whether some charters are unlawfully either steering such children away, failing to identify students in need of special education, or pushing enrolled students with disabilities out, perhaps through harsh discipline or other means.”
When it comes to illegally discouraging the enrollment of children with severe special education needs from their publicly funded private schools, charters have a lot of tools available in their toolboxes. Some will use enrollment processes to signal to parents that these children are being screened out or they will force these students into undesirable programs. Others will stress that all of their students are expected to be college-bound or use draconian discipline policies against students who are unable to follow the rules. More blatant is the “counseling out” of students by directly telling parents that their children will do better at another school.
The “Education Reform” movement that birthed these charter schools places a high value on data and, therefore, summarily dismissed anecdotal evidence of these violations. As an example, when the California Charter School Association was asked to comment on allegations that Granada Hills Charter High School was engaging in this type of exclusionary behavior, they did not inquire if these allegations were true. Instead, they asked the school for “a quick response on why this isn’t something worth writing about”. As long as standardized test scores are high…