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Are charter schools a good fit for special needs students?

California boasts a rich diversity of students, educators and educational approaches within its public school systems. Increasingly, charter schools are adding to this diversity. Charter schools often allow students opportunities that they would not otherwise be granted access to. However, not every public charter school’s mission is a good fit for every student. For example, a charter school with a focus on more technical aspects of education may not be the right space for a student passionate about the arts.

A report recently released by the Independent Budget Office of the New York City public school system indicates that disabled students within that district maintain longer attendance records at charter schools than they do at traditional schools. Although the rates of charter school attendance longevity are only slightly higher than are the rates of traditional school attendance longevity for disabled students, this trend inspires some interesting questions.

Could charter schools possibly provide a better educational environment for some disabled students than traditional learning environments do? This is a complex question with no easy answer, especially because charter schools vary widely in terms of their missions, approaches and environments.

Any district that is home to charter schools may provide some interesting opportunities for learning. If you have questions about how your special needs or disabled student may fare at a charter school, please carefully research your available options. If you have questions about how the law protects your special needs student in any public educational environment, please do not hesitate to speak with an attorney experienced in educational law.

Source: New York Times, “More Special-Needs Students Remain at Charter Schools, Report Finds,” Elizabeth A. Harris, Jan. 29, 2015

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