Accomodating students with special needs

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Regardless of where they are enrolled, children with disabilities are protected by the same federal laws and regulations guaranteeing a free and public education delivered in the least restrictive environment.

Charter schools that do not serve special needs students also can place unfair burdens on district schools.

On average, however, the disabled students charter schools enroll tend to have disabilities that are less severe and less costly to remediate than those of students in district schools.

Yet charter schools are public schools, supported by taxpayers and considered open to all students. Some charter school officials have suggested that official records undercount their enrollments of disabled students, because the parents of some students who would qualify as “disabled” have deliberately avoided the label or even obscured its previous use.

Disability is not an issue that should separate us.Charter schools are expanding their reliance on scripted instruction, which is less viable for students with disabilities, who benefit from more student-centered approaches.The expansion of networks of college-prep-oriented charter schools, which do not aim to serve a broad population of students, may also indicate to parents that charter schools are not the right choice for their disabled children.There is considerable evidence that charter schools actively discourage families from enrolling disabled children and counsel them to leave when they do manage to enroll.The largest study on this topic was commissioned by the U. Department of Education, with the report published in 2000.

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