Charter Schools / Special Education

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by Kjs, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    My neighbor works in the office of a Charter School. She started off volunteering when it opened, and was offered the position about a year after. Her oldest is difficult child's age but a girl(difficult child would do anything for her, would never let anyone talk mean or bad to her. Very protective) neighbors youngest is 10. Both her kids have gone to this school since they started school. She has been putting pressure on me to send difficult child there. I called and spoke to the director. No counselors at the school. No special services unless someone from the district comes in, however "they don't need services in their small school" (per director). No library, they walk to a near by one. K - 8 total of 172 kids. Neighbor feels if difficult child went there he would have no problems. It is part of the Unified district. My concerns are:
    Can you recieve Special Education services even if they do not have a Special Education teacher there?
    They only have one teacher per grade, what if difficult child and teacher didn't get along???
    Are smaller settings better for difficult child's?

    She is a great neighbor, but I do not feel comfortable with the Charter School. They have 1000 kids in difficult child's middle school. Heck they had more kids in his kindergarden class than this whole school has. (they had 6 kindergarden classes when he was younger)

    I have just had it with his school, but don't see any other options. Just wanting to know other's views.
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    In general, smaller settings are better for difficult children because they get the individual attention they so desperately need.

    Having said that, my son is in a small private school because we felt the public middle school was too large and he would fall through the cracks there (plus he was deemed ineligible for an IEP, which is another story altogether). In his school, there is a learning specialist and difficult child 1 receives certain accommodations (extended time, class notes), but in every other way he is treated like every other student, which means no reduced homework and no late work (the two accommodations he really needs). All extra help (inside and outside of school) must be provided by us.

    You say you are uncomfortable with the Charter School, but have you gone to visit it? If you see it, you might get a better feel for whether it's the right setting for difficult child or not.
  3. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    I have been there. It is housed in a very old building that use to be a catholic school at some time. it smells old.
    I see it as more of a family type setting, but it reminds me of a glorified day-care/pre-school. Would that type of setting prepare difficult child for the world?
  4. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    I don't know -- it depends upon what and how the Charter School teaches.

    If your difficult child is not thriving in his current setting, you may need to consider other settings (but it doesn't have to be this Charter School). We pulled two of our kids (who by the way are academically gifted) out of public school because they needed a smaller, more nurturing, less stressful environment. The schools they are attending now may not be as academically rigorous as the public schools, but they meet the needs of my kids in terms of emotional support.
  5. Mickey2255

    Mickey2255 New Member

    Both of my kids go to a charter school and have since kindergarden. We live in a very undesirable district and can't afford a private school. Overall - I love the school. You can read some of my old posts in the past month complaining about how they are handling difficult child's IEP and suspension days, but I honestly do feel they care for my difficult child and try to do what's right for him.

    But that being said, every charter is different and they often have a "theme" or "philosophy" that is their mainstay. You would be wise to visit the school, both at a planned appointment and as a drop in visitor. Really ask a lot of questions about HOW they teach. Do they plan on growing or expanding? Our school started out 4 years ago with 200 kids and is now at 600 and goes through middle school. Next year they are starting a high school and expect to add another 600 kids over 5 years. It won't be such a small school by then! They've also added a lot of services over those years including Special Education and gifted programs.

    Anyway, if you aren't happy where you are, it might be worth looking at as an option!
    Good luck!
  6. PollyParent

    PollyParent New Member

    The idea that the charter does not need services simply because they are small sounds suspect to me. And just because they are "part" of a Unified district does not mean that the charter has access to the District's employees or resources. It depends upon what is written into the charter.

    The issue that I've come across in dealing with charter schools and Special Education is a hidden one of the charter school not wanting to become a magnet for Special Education students but not being legally allowed to discriminate.

    One of the first issues I had to face when I became a school board member was a charter school petition. The charter, as part of the public system, had to publicly state that it would not discriminate against students needing accomodations. However, some of the petitioners told me privately that they were very concerned that the school would be flooded by Learning Disability (LD) studens when they opened because their reading philosophy was different than the other public schools in the area. It would be more conducive to students with certain reading and comprehension difficulties. BUT, they hadn't factored a reading specialist into their budget.

    Eventually the petition was denied at the District level and then the appeal to the County level was denied as well. The County found in its opinion that the charter had falsely dedicated to providing SpecEd services to its students whereas it had never even met with the County SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area), let alone contracted with them to provide services.

    I have learned since then that the petitioners were given the advice to "fly under the radar" by their legal counsel regarding providing services for Special Education. It was bad advice as it turned out.

    I would advise you to be very careful about assuming that the charter is prepared to adress your child's needs. The simple way to find out is just to ask. Find out if there are kids at the charter with IEPs; ask if your county has a SELPA; and ask if the charter takes part in the SELPA arrangement. (Partaking of county services means that the charter does not have to hire their own resource people.)

    All charters are not the same. You have to READ the charter itself to understand how the school operates.

  7. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    FYI, the feds require all State's to comply with IDEA in order to receive funding. It's my understanding that any school (public or private) that accepts federal funds must adhere to IDEA. There may be some caveats to this that I am not aware of. Marti might be able to elaborate.