Unique Schools Serving Unique Students: Charter Schools and Children with Special Needs

Robin Lake, ed.
Center on Reinventing Public Education
2010

Nearly 11 percent of charter students require special education services, and this book addresses the challenges—and opportunities—faced by charters in educating them. Though it’s a collection of essays, it amounts to a comprehensive overview of the topic, addressing the legal and practical issues both of specialized SPED charters and of disabled youngsters attending general charters. Things like limited access to district service infrastructure and lower funding levels (see above) hit charters serving SPED pupils particularly hard, and of course special education is governed by a complex regulatory web that limits school flexibility. Still, charters’ autonomy lets them take the IEP to a new level. The book uses six case studies to distill five characteristics of strong charter programs for students with disabilities: school-wide commitment to meeting individual needs, effective professional development, custom student intervention, focus on effective instruction, and safe and respectful student-to-student interactions. Overall, a fine primer for those interested in where these two sectors meet. Buy it here.

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