Shasta County Charter Schools Special Education Consortium
The challenge: Serving students with special needs well, in a cost-effective manner
Back in 1997, when Jean Hatch was teaching a Special Day class, she became disillusioned by the number of students who were unable to read textbooks for core subjects. She, with others, decided to create a charter public school, which eventually became the Redding School of the Arts (RSA). When the school was designed, special needs and at-risk students were considered at every step. As the school developed, so did the concept of a Special Education Consortium. Initially, RSA partnered with the Monarch Learning Center for special education services.
The solution: Partnering with other charter schools
The Shasta County Charter Schools Special Education Consortium is one of the oldest charter school consortia in California. It has grown to include approximately 1,100 charter school students and six uniquely different charter schools located in Shasta County. It is run by a board of directors with one representative from each school, who meet regularly to discuss issues such as budget, programs and staffing. Schools in the consortium pool monies, resources and liabilities to provide high-quality intervention and remediation programs to special needs students, in a cost-effective manner. All schools in the consortium are Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) for the purposes of special education.
The results: Schools with expertise can guide others within the group
Many charter public schools are not familiar with special education law and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA). By forming a consortium, schools that have special education expertise can guide others within the group. In addition, as Hatch notes, "Charter schools appear to benefit from the variation of service that is possible when the special education employees work for the charter schools." When employees' allegiance is to the schools, not the district or an outside agency, better services are provided. As a result, while charter schools in some districts receive "leftover" services or none at all, schools in the Shasta Consortium receive more services, that are more effective, for less money.
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