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ERIC Number: EJ802358
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Mar
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1525-1810
Special Education in Charter Schools: The View from State Education Agencies
Lange, Cheryl M.; Rhim, Lauren Morando; Ahearn, Eileen M.
Journal of Special Education Leadership, v21 n1 p12-21 Mar 2008
Charter schools, although a stage for potential educational reform and innovation, remain subject to federal laws regarding the education of students with disabilities. As they intersect with federal law, the variance of state charter laws and policy surrounding the provision of special education creates a challenging context for helping charters to meet mandates. Although key policy makers have developed an understanding of the policy issues and legal status of charters in their states, mechanisms for supporting charter schools in the education of students with disabilities remain ambiguous. The present research study was designed to shed light on the point of view of key officials who deal with the issues of the intersection of charter and special education laws on a day-to-day basis. A legislative review and two state-level surveys were conducted during the 2003-2004 academic year. State charter school laws and related policy documents were reviewed to determine the degree to which states address special education in their charter school laws. Surveys of state directors of special education and state charter school officials (the state-level policy leaders most directly involved with developing and implementing policies that influence charter schools) were conducted to verify and complement the legislative review. A bank of survey items was designed by building upon prior research conducted into special education and charter schools. The items were then reviewed by an advisory panel and revised with the most salient items included in the surveys. This legislative review and survey findings indicate that state-level officials are in agreement about the legal status of charter schools in their states, but there is less consistency concerning who is responsible for special education and related services, the challenges in the charter schools, technical assistance needs, and who provides support for building special education capacity. These findings suggest that in many states, capacity is not being expected or built during the authorization stage nor is it being expected when charter schools seek renewal. Moreover, the renewal process, which has as its core the charter contract, is not being utilized to the extent possible in setting accountability parameters. The authors propose that ensuring that state-level policy leaders who deal with charter schools are aware of the nuances of the state charter school law and the impact it has on special education policy is critical to successful implementation of special education in charter schools. (Contains 2 footnotes.)
Council of Administrators of Special Education. Fort Valley State University, 1005 State University Drive, Fort Valley, GA 31030. Tel: 478-825-7667; Fax: 478-825-7811; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act