Friday, June 22, 2012

Breaking News: New GAO Report Charter Schools & Kids With Disabilities

Seal of the General Accounting Office, from 19...
Seal of the General Accounting Office, from 1921 until being renamed in 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a new report, the federal Government Accountability Office, nee the General Accounting Office, has found that charter schools enroll a smaller percentage of children with disabilities than public schools do.  In school year 2009-2010, about 11% of children enrolled in public schools were children with disabilities.  During the same period, about 8% of children enrolled in charter schools had disabilities.

The authors of the report are unsure why the charter schools numbers were lower and do not attribute any conclusion, but critics have charged that some charters do not accept enough children with disabilities.  See, Weber, Mark C., Special Education from the (Damp) Ground Up: Children with Disabilities in a Charter School-Dependent Educational System (October 12, 2009). Loyola Journal of Public Interest Law, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:, Students With Disabilities Need Not Apply,” by Prof. Thomas Herir, (op-ed piece) Education Week online January 25, 2010,

As always, you should read the report yourself.  You can read the entire GAO report here.  A summary is available here.

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. The charter system has always been something I’m a little iffy on. They really seem to disregard the one aspect schools have worked so hard to improve upon the last 20 years or so: student acceptance/diversity. Statistics such as this one only make translucent the problem, and that’s simply that handing acceptance control and financial freedom, total power over who gets to say what or be accepted and the lessons that will be subsequently taught is a good idea on paper, but winds up leaving a lot of people out in practice.

  2. Sarah,

    Thanks for your comment.


  3. I actually work in a charter school in California. We are working very hard at working with our students who either have IEPs or 504 plans. I think the overall problem is not so much with charter schools--although the report puts that out there---public schools as well as private schools across the country struggle to provide the necessary services for students with learning disabilities. I don't think this is only a charter school problem. I do think it is an educational system problem--it is systemic. It is a broad area of concern and shortfall across the board, not just in the charter school setting. Kids are getting left behind in school because schools and teachers are not providing the services that students require. This is hard fact to hear and to say (as I am a teacher), but it is true.

  4. I work in a public school. I teach SpEd. We have a very high % of students in SpEd in our elementary. Many of my students are in SpEd because of environment. I truly believe many could be exited IF they had the support at home. Many of my students are unable to "catch up" or get ahead because their parents were in SpEd or have a very low education level. Many did not graduate HS. They also do not know how to do the work and therefore cannot help their kids.
    I know that the students in my class, their parents could not afford private or charter schools. Maybe that is why there are not many SpEd kids in charter schools.