Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Can IDEA be addressed appropriately to meet the needs of disabled students in Charter Schools?

Image result for ideaThis is a tricky scenario to pin down. As a special education teacher in a charter school, I have, we have a ratio of special education students to general education that is 2% higher than the local public school district ratio. This runs equal to the findings of Lake, Miron, & Noguera  (2014) where 3% is the measured ratio nationally.

Under  FAPE and IDEA, we are required to meet the needs of our students and are under review of federal and state agencies to ensure we are in compliance.  However, as  Estes (2004) points out 3 areas where charter schools can fall short in meeting the needs of disabled students are in basic discrimination, expertise, and funding, I have seen all of these play out within my own charter school.

Students apply, selected through a lottery, and accepted. However, data is quickly collected and reported. Students who do not fit within our framework and capabilities are turned away. This is due to our lack of funding to provide a fully accessible environment to physically disable students and the fact the building’s age allows us to turn those students away under IDEA. Finally, the lack of experience of our special education department of 3 is woefully inexperienced. This includes me in that description. Two of us are emergency certified and only 1 is fully certified. Our overall staff of 17 too lack teaching experiences overall with an average of 4 years of experience.

This withstanding, the students we do serve are well-served. Under the leadership of a well informed and highly trained special education director who understands our culture and situation, thoughtful training and graceful guidance really allow us to meet the needs and demands of servicing a special education population under the federal guidelines of IDEA. So yes, IDEA can be appropriately addressed to meet the needs of disable students as long as the institution is capable of meeting those needs.

Garda, R. A., Jr. (2012). Culture clash: Special education in charter schools. North Carolina Law Review, (90), 656-717. Retrieved October 22, 2015.Mary, B. E. (2004). Estes, M.  B. (2004). Choice for all? Charter schools and students with special needs. The Journal of Special Education, 37(4), 257-267.
Lake, R. J., Miron, G., & Noguera, P. A. (2014). Should charter schools enroll more special education students? Education Next,14(4) .

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