You may be thinking about enrolling your child into a charter school. Parents in a parent group you're in, or maybe even friends or family have their children in charter schools, and they rave about how well those kids are doing. Charter schools can boast smaller learning environments, better teacher to student ratio, smaller campuses and more teacher and staff availability to parents. All of these things are great, and they do work out very well for some students. However, you may be wondering if the charter school route is right for your child, who is enrolled in special education.
The short answer is maybe. A charter school might be a great environment for your child, and might boast the kind of staff, facilities and services that allow your child to benefit extensively from their education. The more appropriate question is not whether or not a charter school is right for your child, but how you determine appropriateness. There are questions that need to be answered before you should feel ok about enrolling your child into a charter school if that child needs special education services.
First, bring your child's latest IEP document and ask the administrator if they can implement all of the services on that IEP. If they cannot, ask which services they cannot implement, why they cannot implement them, and how they can replace those services. Ask how many special education dedicated teachers they have on campus. Ask how many related services providers they have available on campus (speech, occupational therapy, etc.), and how many days a week those people are available. Ask if they have a dedicated school psychologist on campus.
If the charter school cannot implement many things on your child's IEP, there is a good chance it will not be an appropriate fit. If they want to drastically modify your child's IEP in order to enroll them, there is again a good chance it will not be appropriate. If there is only a bare minimum of special education staff available, it will be difficult for your child to get the kind of support they might need. The point is to ask these questions prior to enrollment, and be educated when you ultimately make your decision whether or not to place.
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If you have any questions about your child's rights and special education services, Contact us by email or call us at 714-602-1498 or 866-781-7723 (toll free) for more information.
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