Unique Schools Serving Unique Students: Charters and Special Needs

Robin Lake, Center on Reinventing Public Education
6 May, 2010

Edited by Robin Lake, this May 2010 publication from the Center on Reinventing Public Education examines the role charter schools play in educating students with special education requirements at "the intersection of two very important policy areas in education."

"Advocates of school choice contend that the diversity of the student population requires a diversity of schools to allow parents to select the right fit for their children," Lake writes in her introduction. "Students with disabilities are diverse by their very nature, and their special and differing needs add layers of complexity to that diversity." 

Using case studies and surveys, the report outlines special education requirements for charter schools -- including the challenge of pursuing unconventual approaches but still staying true to the legal foundations of federal special education law. The report also focuses on how parents of students with special needs choose schools, lessons from successful charter school programs, and opportunities for innovation and improvement. 

It's critical to focus on parent involvement, according to Lake, for a simple reason. "Although the school choice and special education advocacy movements involve vastly different actors and histories, they share a common assumption," she writes. "In both the theoretical frameworks shaping school choice and special education legal frameworks, it is intended that parents are full partners and advocates for their children in making educational choices."

The introduction to the book can be downloaded here.