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Yes charters, that means you

May 22, 2014

On the heels of newly clarified Federal civil rights guidelines for public school enrollment, and the Red Clay board’s task force looking into charter enrollment disparities, there is this:

Federal Civil Rights Laws Apply Equally to Charter Schools, Guidance Says

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued guidance today clarifying that charter schools have the same obligations to abide by federal civil rights laws as regular public schools. The “Dear Colleague” letter by Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon includes specific guidance for charter schools related to admissions, students with disabilities, English-language learners, and discipline.

In addition to those areas, charter schools should ensure their policies and practices comply with all federal civil rights law, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination based on sex; and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits discrimination based on disability, Lhamon wrote.

(from Charters & Choice blog)

The full text of the guidance letter is here.

Delaware charters may feel comfortable that their civil rights obligations are satisfied by the assertion that “anybody may apply.” But the fact is, charter enrollments are heavily skewed toward whiter, richer, and non-disabled students, especially in the “top performing” charters. The guidance elaborates:

As explained in greater depth in the Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity and Avoid Racial Isolation in Elementary and Secondary Schools, charter schools should consider approaches that do not rely on the race of individual students before adopting approaches that do. Race-neutral approaches can take racial impact into account to promote diversity or avoid racial isolation; examples include targeting specific media outlets in which to advertise, reaching out to particular community groups, or using lotteries that give extra weight based on the socioeconomic status of a child’s parents. If a charter school determines that race-neutral approaches would be unworkable or ineffective, it may employ generalized race-based approaches, which use race as an express criterion (such as locating a school based on the overall racial composition of neighborhoods or feeder schools) but do not ely on the race of individual students If race-neutral and generalized race-based approaches would be unworkable, a charter school may consider an individual student’s race under appropriate factual circumstances.

And, if there was ever any doubt about charters’ obligation to students with disabilities, there is this:

Free appropriate public education for students with disabilities.

Under Sect ion 504, every student with a disability enrolled in a public school, including a public charter school, must be provided a free appropriate public education – that is, regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet his or her individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met. Evaluation and placement procedures are among the requirements that must be followed if a student needs, or is believed to need, special education or related services due to a disability.

  1. May 22, 2014 at 12:45 am

    Wow. That was a surprise… Now watch the charters begin to disappear since their entire raison d’etre has been made illegal.

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