GAO: Charters Under-Serve SPED Kids

A new GAO report requested by Democratic House member George Miller was unveiled to several media outlets (presumably under embargo) and reported all over the place today (Charter schools enroll fewer disabled children than public schools, GAO report says is one example). Today also happens to be halfway through the national charter school conference in Minneapolis.

What makes the report noteworthy isn't so much its main finding (that charters serve 8 percent SPED kids compared to 11 percent in the general population) but its timing.  GAO reports usually come out at random times.  The occasional exception is when a new report is released around a Committee hearing.   Miller isn't known for being anti-charter, though he's a Democrat.  He has urged them to do better in terms of ELL and SPED kids, and to get more involved in turnarounds.  In this case, Miller's office handled the press and seems to have orchestrated the timing. From Miller this morning: "This report rightly calls on Congress and the Department of Education to focus our efforts on providing students with disabilities the full opportunity to achieve a complete mainstream education whether in a traditional public school or a charter school.”  (see full press release below)

Even before the report came out, CER's Jeanne Allen was raising warning flags about media coverage this week, describing a Minnesota Public Radio story as "a taste of what is to come" this week.  "we will see many more stories citing “studies” that show “mixed results” on charter school performance," said Allen in an email Tuesday. NAPCS and NACSA are working on statements, I'm told.

Continue reading "Media: Exquisitely Timed GAO Report Slams Charters" »



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    Completely disagree. The fact that thousands and thousands of children are underserved by charters is noteworthy. The choice of the time to release the report is strategic in that it maximizes the likelihood of helping those students.

    Isn't that why we are all interested in education?

  • My comments on this report appeared in an AP wire story this morning. It can be retrived at

    Rod Estvan

  • Can someone tell me why Dr. Dushon Brown,Principal at Brooks, has been reassigned by CPS?

  • My child is in a self-contained special education class in CPS. If I want him to go to a charter, can I just apply like anyone else? Do I have to reveal that he has an IEP on the application? If I don't and he gets in, how is it handled if the school doesn't already have a self-contained class? Just wondering, as there is a new charter school opening by my house.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I have been to several charters and none had Self Contained Special Ed Classrooms (are there any?). I assume this setting was found the Least Restrictive Environment for a reason.
    Putting him in a Regular Ed. Classroom wouldn't be beneficial to him, or fair to all the other students in that room.

  • In reply to PDec:

    PDec -

    1) I never suggested changing his LRE.

    2) What are you, 100 years old? Your statement that having a disabled child around is UNFAIR to non-disabled kids is a shameful throwback to the old times when disabled children were routinely locked away in segregated environments. Wake up and join the new millennium, where we expect and respect diversity in our schools.

    3) If you know ANYTHING about CPS you would know that LRE placement has NOTHING to do with what is best for the child and everything to do with what is cheaper and easier for OSES in that moment. So please don't assume that all kids in self-contained are there because of a legitimate need, because I happen to know that half of the kids in my son's class should be in a blended mainstream environment with support, but CPS is too cheap to do it.

    But anyway - I didn't ask to change my son's LRE - just what would happen if he applied to a charter and got in. IMHO if he gets in they should have to create a program for him at that school.

    Is it so bad for me to want him to go to the brand spanking new school opening just a few short blocks away? When his current school is a total sh*thole that he has to take a bus to? Oh I guess he should just be stuck where he is, because it would be UNFAIR to have him be around non-disabled kids. People like you make me want to barf.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Charters do ask whether your student has an IEP on the initial application but this information will not be used to deny your student admission.

  • I would NOT tell the charter your child has an IEP. Get in first and then bring it with you and have them make a copy. Make sure you have a signed letter fo acceptance before you bring the IEP. When you bring the IEP and they try to keep your child out of the charter, tell you he is not a good fit or they do not have the program, call Rod Estvan at Access living and make a complaint against the charter.
    Good Luck

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The question of a student with an existing IEP that requires completely self-contained services seeking admission to a charter school is a complex issue. But your child does have the legal right to apply just like any other student.

    If the charter school does not have a self-contained program at the site you are applying to and the charter school is part of a larger charter network the school might attempt to have the student educated at another school in the network which does have a self contained class of some type. The charter school may also recommend that the IEP be modified to allow for services in non-self contained settings.

    Here is the ultimate confusing thing, if you wanted to litigate against a particular charter school over either its special education admissions policy or service provision under state and federal law you actually cannot. All due process fillings have to be made against the school district which is CPS and not the individual charter school or network. Even a formal appeal to the US Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights would be made against CPS and not the actual charter school.

    As part of a settlement CPS can legally in fact offer a self contained placement in a traditional CPS school or it could even offer a private special education school placement at the expense of CPS. Effectively in the case the parent presents you could in theory after litigation end up exactly where your child is at.

    To say this situation is a mess is an understatement. This is one very major reason I have publicly supported the idea that all charter schools in the city be under their own school district that would be different than CPS. At least then parents could actually litigate against something that is actually responsible for the charter school and may in fact have some authority over the charter school.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    When parents talk about not telling a charter school or any school for that matter about a child's IEP I question why? Don't you want what is best for your child? I work in a charter school as a Special Education Coordinator and I too often have seen what happens when we are not told that I child has an IEP - let me say it isn't pretty. The student is not happy or successful, the parents are unhappy and often the school is not success for the child or other students in the school.

    My recommendation is to meet with the Special Education Coordinator or Case Manager to learn what options are available for your child. Revisiting the IEP might be needed, some creative scheduling might be possible, especially if they are in high school.

    Work with the school and not against it - do what is right for your child.

  • All this back-tracking by Brizard; all the mix-ups and delays at 125, all the new people and then the new people are gone--Cheatem got out the kinder assessment PD way TOO LATE. Common core they hurried and released to teachers the last day of school-only covers 3 grades! Summer school is all over the place. What is going on? we sure know what is NOT going on.

  • Dear District 299 Reader: A charter school cannot deny enrollment to any child with a disability. If your child is currently receiving IEP services in a self-contained setting, they have every right to attend a charter school. Due to the uniqueness of each charter school, it is difficult to say if your child would be successful. Students with disabilities often have a very positive experience at charter schools. Class sizes might be smaller, curriculum might be varied, additional staff might be available to help in the classroom. As Rod indicated, CPS is the LEA for charter schools. If a charter school does not support you or your child, contact central office for assistance.

  • Ask to tour the charter school, analyze any data, (charters are not required to give the ISATs) get the SPED teacher's name and go to ISBE/ECS and look up the certification. As the SBPS, now RtI teacher, I tried to keep an open mind regarding charters but every and I mean every child who moves into our attendance area and leaves a charter is academically unprepared. It is sad to see how far behind they are and the parents have report cards full of A's and B's. Research carefully....

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