A new U.S. Government Accountability Office report about students with disabilities enrolled in charter schools found what many in the special education arena already knew: These kids don’t show up in charters at the same rates they do in traditional public schools.
But the GAO report did offer one of the first comprehensive national looks at the phenomenon.
For example, as you’ll see in the complete story on this report from me and my colleague Sean Cavanagh over at the Charters & Choice blog, the GAO looked at every state to see whether the percentage of students with disabilities in traditional public schools matched the percentage in charters. The majority, you’ll see on page 8 of the report, don’t even come close.
The exclusion of students with disabilities, especially severe disabilities is especially troubling though, as charter schools expand and grow in number, said Ricki Sabia, associate director for education for the National Down Syndome Society. When charters fail to enroll the same proportion of the students with special needs, they aren’t competing on a level playing field with traditional public schools, who don’t have the ability to turn away students they don’t want to enroll.