Charter Schools and the Disabled

Charter schools are a hot topic these days. Especially in Washington State, where a charter school initiative (Initiative 1240) will be on the ballot in November.

As we consider important issues like this we must consider the potential impact on mentally and physically disabled students. A recent study finds fewer disabled students are enrolled in charter schools than public classrooms.

A few of the more interesting facts and suggestions:

  • 8 percent of students at charter schools are disabled and require special services, compared with 11 percent in public schools.
  • Nearly half of the charter-school officials said insufficient resources, including limited space, are a challenge. Severely disabled children are often removed from regular classrooms and given additional help in a separate room, but charters can lack the necessary space.
  • All schools that accept federal money, including charters, are required to provide a “free appropriate” education to all disabled children. They can’t exclude disabled students or discriminate against them.
  • Even with that, some charge that charters prefer to enroll students who are easier and less costly to educate.

Just some things to consider as we approach this important vote.

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