Charter School Placement for Special Education Students in Los Angeles

Legal Rights for Parents and Children in California Charter Schools

The expansion of charter schools throughout California has increased the number of educational options available to children with special needs. Many parents may consider charter schools as an alternative to traditional public programs due to unique programs, teaching philosophies, services, and support systems. Some schools may even have more resources and can provide additional hands-on teaching methods that are specific to your child’s needs. For parents who are considering enrolling their child in a charter school, it is important to understand that charter schools are required to abide by the same laws as traditional public schools, including the fair treatment of special education students.

But, if you are facing legal difficulties with enrolling your child in a Los Angeles or San Gabriel Valley charter school, or a charter school is not fulfilling the requirements of your child’s IEP, contact the Woodsmall Law Group at (626) 440-0028 to discuss your case and retain the experience of a compassionate and knowledgeable Los Angeles special education attorney.

How Charter Schools Differ From Traditional Schools

Charter schools are not the same as private schools, as they are still considered public schools, and, despite their unique name, are more similar to traditional public schools in terms of admissions, funding, and requirements. While most public schools operate under the guidance of a school district, charter schools have a local or state contract (or “charter”) that allows them to operate independently of the district.

This charter allows charter schools to develop unique teaching practices, such as online-only classes or personalized learning programs, that may differ from a traditional educational system. They are still publicly funded and must abide by all state and federal laws regarding special education, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Vocational Rehabilitation Act, California Education Code, and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). There is also no financial barrier to entry for parents seeking to enroll their children in one. In fact, some schools have more specialized programs for children with special needs and may provide specific benefits due to their smaller class sizes.

However, charter schools do only accept a limited number of students each year and some even utilize a lottery to select new admissions, so entry is not guaranteed. That being said, charter schools cannot deny a student placement based on their special needs or “counsel out” a child. Special needs students must be given the same opportunity to apply and their IEP or 504 plan cannot be a factor in the application process.

Resources Available at Charter Schools

Just as a charter school cannot deny a special needs student’s application, they must also provide free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all students. As a result of this, if your child’s IEP outlines specific services, such as a one-on-one aide, behavioral therapy, and interpretation services, then those services should still be funded and provided for even if your child attends a charter school.

In addition, if your child is already attending a charter school and you or a teacher believe he or she has a learning disability, you may request a special needs evaluation with the local school district or even with the charter school itself. If your child is determined to be eligible for special needs supports and services, you may develop an IEP in accordance with the school district to ensure your child receives the resources he or she needs to have a fulfilling educational experience. Your child’s charter school is also legally required to provide these services as outlined by your child’s IEP.

Requesting Charter School Placement in an IEP

Where you choose to place your child is ultimately up to you as a parent. If you believe that a specific charter school will provide a better environment for your child to learn and thrive in, then you are allowed to submit an application for admission. Your IEP team may not bar you from sending your child to a charter school or reject a request for services if your child is accepted.

You will, however, want to include your IEP in the discussion to determine the best plan of action. Some parents choose to enroll children in charter schools because they feel that the traditional school system is not providing a healthy learning environment, or they have difficulties receiving requested services. It is important to discuss these issues with your child’s IEP team and review all options, including placement in another public school or modifications to the IEP, to determine what is the best option for your child and his or her future. Some charter schools have unique teaching philosophies and practices, and thus may not be the best fit for your child’s development. Your child’s IEP team may have alternative options, such as adjustments to your child’s current school, or other charter schools that are the right fit.

Ensuring a child continues to receive the best educational experience as possible is a top priority for Los Angeles parents, especially if that child also needs assistance due to a disability. You may be worried that you will lose certain services if your child enrolls in a charter school or are facing barriers while working with your school district. That is where Woodsmall Law Group comes in. Our team has a thorough understanding of the legal rights of parents and students in Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley. If you are having difficulties receiving supports and services outlined in your child’s IEP while attending a charter school, contact Woodsmall Law Group at (626) 440-0028. Our Los Angeles special needs lawyers can review your case and outline your legal options.