Charter Schools and Special Education: Ensuring Legal Compliance and Effectiveness Through Capacity Building

49 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2021 Last revised: 21 Jun 2021

See all articles by Robert A. Garda

Robert A. Garda

Loyola University of New Orleans College of Law

Paul O'Neill

Center for Learner Equity

Date Written: June 10, 2021

Abstract

Charter schools often struggle to meet their obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) to appropriately educate students with disabilities. They tend to enroll a lower percentage of students with disabilities than traditional public schools, enroll fewer students with severe disabilities, educate more students in the general education classrooms, and suspend and expel students with disabilities at a high rate. Because capacity is the primary reason charter schools struggle with enrolling and serving students with disabilities, this Article proposes that states should compel charter schools to demonstrate that they have sufficient capacity to fulfill all of the mandates of the IDEA. For charter schools that are unable to demonstrate sufficient capacity, states should compel that they link to larger special education infrastructures. But rather than mandate a single type of linkage or infrastructure, this Article suggests that states should take advantage of the flexibility in federal law and create a variety of pathways for charter schools to establish sufficient capacity.

Keywords: education law, Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, Rehabilitation Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, charter schools

JEL Classification: I21, I24, K10, K39

Suggested Citation

Garda, Robert A. and O'Neill, Paul, Charter Schools and Special Education: Ensuring Legal Compliance and Effectiveness Through Capacity Building (June 10, 2021). 50. U. Memphis L. Rev. 947 (2020), Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Research Paper No. 2021-04, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3864252

Robert A. Garda (Contact Author)

Loyola University of New Orleans College of Law ( email )

7214 St. Charles Ave.
Campus Box 901
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

Paul O'Neill

Center for Learner Equity ( email )

312 Maolis Avenue
Glen Ridge, NJ 07028
United States

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