Students with Disabilities and Charter Schools in Connecticut An Arranged Marriage Nancy M. Cappello, Ph.D.CT State Department of EducationNovember 8, 2006
An Arranged Marriage • Legislation enacted in 1996 • 12 charter schools opened in 1997 (small but steady) – peaked at 17 - officially closed two (1. non-renewal - student achievement and 2. revocation- violation of laws) , two conversions to magnets – “talked” others into closing. • Currently 16 charter schools – two new in 06-07 year (3380 students) • Legislation states that for students with disabilities the district of residence is responsible for developing, reviewing and revising the Individualized Education Program (IEP). Pays the charter school the costs of special education above what the charter receives from federal, state, and private sources.
An Arranged Marriage • Currently, state pays charter per pupil fee for enrolled students – presently 8,000.00 per student • Charter must ensure that IEP services are provided – complaints – both parties have exposure (District IEP/Charter ensures services) • Provision of services worked out between charter and district of residence – staffing
Marriage made in Heaven or Irreconcilable Differences • In the beginning . . . Charters and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) did not understand this arrangement – state assistance • For the first few years, LEAs provided services – later charters hired own educational staff • Typically LEAs provide “related” services • Issue of money – intervention by state department • Published in 2003 Students with disabilities and school choice in Connecticut
An Arranged Marriage • Positive aspects • State Dept. of Education as only authorizer and monitor is visible – can ensure that students with disabilities receive services – Monitoring by both offices – dedicated consultant from special education • Dept. monitors districts and charters • From the onset – CT Dept. of Education Team approach – program manager, assessment, teaching and learning, legal, special education • Special education is embedded in application, start-up, monitoring visits and renewal - new charter orientation for 06-07 – 9 renewals – special ed presence • Technical assistance available to charter, districts – communication through blogs, training, waived fee • Districts have the infrastructure to implement the process – forms, staff, understand due process, regulations
An Arranged Marriage • Challenges • Control – it requires people to work together who may have different approaches to education • Meetings may become polarized – us and them • “Payment” disputes – Bring in the collection agency
Doing the right thing All students retain the right to FAPE in choice programs • Relentlessly pursue student records (10 day rule ) • “All” students chosen by lottery “get in” • Do not tell a parent that the student cannot attend the school until a multidisciplinary meeting is held • Do not tell a parent that a student cannot attend the choice program/school because s/he was in a self-contained program • Do not say we only do inclusion here and may they all live happily ever after . . .
An Arranged Marriage For more information: Nancy M. Cappello, Ph.D. Lynn Toper, Ed.D. Interim Bureau Chief Education Consultant CT State Dept. of Education firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com (860) 713-6910 Website: www.state.ct.us/sde