Charter School Policies and Compliance with the MCD, Special Education Law, andDistrict Special Education Policies and Procedures
To determine if the policies require compliance with specific elements of federal and specialeducation law and the MCD, a document review examined specific elements included within therelevant policies. The review found:
The documents contained direct language that articulates a charter school’s obligationsfor complying with the MCD, special education law, and District’s special educationpolicies and procedures.
The review noted several areas that contained thorough descriptions of the charters’responsibilities related to compliance with special education law, such as: thedocumentation of special education services, complaint response and due process.
Some areas identified as requiring additional information and/or clarification to ensurecompliance include: Child Find and Assessment; Discipline and Expulsion; Governance;and, Access Compliance.
Despite the clarity within the documentation that charters must adhere and comply withthe District’s special education policies and procedures, several challenges appear topresent barriers to achieve such compliance.
Enrollment of Students with Disabilities at Charter Schools
The LAUSD has 148 charter schools which serve approximately 58,000 students. This representsapproximately 15% of the District’s schools and 8% of its student population. Enrollment data isimportant when identifying whether a charter school’s policies promote equitable access forSWD. If the population of SWD attending charters is proportionate to that attending the DistrictOperated (DO) schools, it could be indicative of equitable access. Conversely, if differencesexist, it could be concluded that potential biases exist.During the 2008-2009 school year:
SWD attending charter schools made up 7.6% of the overall charter student population,while SWD consisted of 11.3% of the overall student population attending DO schoolswhich indicates that SWD are disproportionately under-enrolled at charter schools.
Students with low incidence disabilities attended charters representing 1.11% of the totalcharter enrollment, while students with low incidence disabilities made up 3.09% of theDO school population of SWD. Based on this, the relative risk ratio for students with lowincidence disabilities to be enrolled in charter schools is 0.36, which means that studentswith low incidence disabilities enrolled at LAUSD charters are significantly under-represented.
Differences in the enrollment of SWD were noted between affiliated, independentconversions and independent start-ups. These differences may be attributed to theaffiliated and conversion schools previous standing as a DO school.