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CCSA Issues Statement, Charter Schools Proudly Serve Students with Disabilities

August 22, 2019

Earlier today, CTA andUTLA released a new report “State of Denial: California Charter Schools and Special Education Students” focusing on students with disabilities and charter schools in Oakland, San Diego and Los Angeles. In response, CCSA issued the following statement from spokesperson Brittany Chord Parmley:

“California’s charter public schools are proud to serve nearly identical numbers of students with disabilities as traditional district schools, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, and are making greater learning gains and educating students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms alongside their general education peers than traditional public schools. Charter educators are far more interested in holding the federal government to account for fully funding IDEA rather than wasting time mudslinging.”

Background information: 

  • It is critical to know who retains the legal responsibility for placement of students with disabilities at each charter school.  For approx. 50% of the charter schools in the State, the authorizer is responsible for placement, preventing a charter school from keeping a student with disabilities that has enrolled.   Given the legal responsibility for serving the student, it is most often the students with the most significant needs and costly supports that the authorizer chooses to retain in a traditional district school.
  • The LAO has found that, on average, charter schools serve similar populations as traditional public schools.
  • Charter schools, unlike school districts, are unable to serve preschool students with disabilities.  As a result, school districts naturally continue to serve students with the most intensive educational needs, i.e., autism, cognitive delays, deaf, etc., who qualify for special education as students with disabilities will become connected in a community and not want to leave to join the charter school once they begin Kindergarten.