Are Washington State Charter Schools Prepared to Meet the Needs of Students with Disabilities?:
Bench, Teryn Victoria
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Charter schools are become an increasingly important part of the education reform landscape. Although each state's charter school legislation is different in the specific restrictions or freedoms afforded to charter schools, all charter schools are public schools and as such are obligated to follow the regulations and principles enshrined in federal mandates, particularly the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Section 504"). This thesis examines the preparedness of the eight Washington State Charter School Commission (WSCSC)-approved charter school operators, as independent Local Education Agencies (LEAs), to create environments and service delivery models that effectively address the needs of students eligible for special education services. The study uses content analysis of WSCSC-approved applications and the special education-specific sections of WSCSC rubric against a best practices rubric for special education in charters operating as LEAs. Results indicate charter operators are most likely to consider special education when explicitly required to do so in the WSCSC Rubric and differences in the measured special education considerations exist among the applications. The WSCSC rubric only vaguely referenced many key considerations of the national rubric. Given the importance and complexities of operating as an independent LEA, concerns are raised by the results of this study as to how charter schools are preparing to meeting the needs of students with disabilities.
- Education - Seattle