Measuring Up



weight: 2 | possible total: 8

17. Clear Identification of Special Education Responsibilities

17A. Clarity regarding which entity is the local education agency (LEA) responsible for providing special education services. 17B. Clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools (in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other LEAs).

How well do states’ laws align to this component of the model law?

State

Charter Law Description

Score

Alaska

Alaska law is silent about special education responsibilities and funding.

0

Arizona

Arizona law provides that each charter school in the state is its own LEA and thus responsible for the special education needs of their enrolled students. However, Arizona law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high cost services for charter schools in the same amount or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

4

Arkansas

Arkansas law provides that districts are the LEAs for special education purposes for conversion charter schools and that charter schools are the LEAs for special education purposes for open enrollment charter schools. It also allows both types of charter schools to apply for additional categorical special education funds to help cover low-incident, high-cost special education services.

8

California

California law provides that a charter school must either receive special education services from an LEA or become its own LEA, joining a Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) and providing special education according to that SELPA's plan. Unless a charter school specifically assumes the obligation to become an LEA and join a SELPA, the charter school is deemed to be part of its authorizer’s LEA for special education purposes.

California law provides that a charter school that is deemed part of its authorizer’s LEA for special education must receive state and federal special education funding in the same manner as any other public school of that LEA. It requires the LEA to ensure that each charter school receives an equitable share of special education funding and services, including those for low-incidence, high-cost needs. It also requires any SELPA plan that includes charter schools to address funding for low-incidence, high-cost services.

California law allows for the formation of all-charter SELPAs. In addition, the law allows charter schools to join SELPAs out of their geographic region and allows SELPAs to design service structures specifically for charters. Despite such policies, it is reported that actual practice for these policies is mixed in that many SELPAs do not provide extra funding for low-incidence, high-cost services and simply allocate funding on a per-student basis.

8

Colorado

For a charter school authorized by a local board of education, Colorado law provides that the school district serves as the LEA for special education purposes. For a charter school authorized by the state charter institute, it provides that the institute serves as the LEA for special education. In either case, the district or the institute is ultimately responsible for providing and funding special education in the schools it charters.

The law specifies that the school district of residence is responsible for the excess costs of educating students with disabilities enrolled in a charter school. In addition, Colorado law provides for an insurance option, whereby charter schools may pay their district LEA a per-pupil amount for all students as a form of insurance for high-cost special education students.

8

Connecticut

Connecticut law requires charter schools to be connected to each student’s district of residence LEA for purposes of special education. It requires special education funds to go to the LEA of residence, which is responsible for evaluation and services.

In reference to high cost, low-incident cases, statute provides that the LEA pay the charter school, on a quarterly basis, an amount equal to the difference between the reasonable cost of educating high cost students and the amount received via a formula by the state charter school.

8

Delaware

Delaware law does not provide clarity regarding which entity is the LEA responsible for providing special education services. In practice, the charter school is the LEA.

Delaware law provides charter schools with access to special support funded by the state for low incident high cost service through full access to the state's Interagency Collaborative Team.

4

District of Columbia

The law requires a charter school to elect at the time of application whether it will be an independent LEA or part of the DC school district LEA for special education purposes.

The law provides that charter schools that are part of the district LEA for special education purposes receive evaluation services from the school district, and that independent LEA charters do not. It also provides that each charter school is responsible for ensuring the provision of special education services whether or not it has elected to be an LEA for special education purposes.

The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incidence, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount or in a manner similar to the district LEA.

4

Florida

Florida law provides that the school district authorizer is the LEA, with the schools responsible for providing services and the districts responsible for overseeing the provision of services.

The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

4

Georgia

For district-authorized schools, Georgia law provides that the district is the LEA and retains responsibility for providing special education services. For state-authorized schools, the law provides that the school is the LEA and retains the responsibility for providing special education services.

The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

4

Hawaii

Hawaii law provides that the state department of education is responsible for the provision of a free appropriate public education and that any charter school is responsible for providing the educational and related services required by a student’s individualized education program (IEP). If the school cannot provide all of the required services, then the department must provide them as determined by the IEP. The department is to collaborate with the state public charter school commission to develop guidelines related to the provision of special education services and resources to each charter school and may offer staff, funding, or both to the school based on a per-pupil weighted formula used to allocate resources for special education students in all public schools.

The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

4

Idaho

Idaho law states that each charter school authorized by an entity other than a local school board is their own LEA. It also provides that a charter school authorized by a local school board may be designated by the local school board as an LEA with the concurrence of the public charter school board of directors; otherwise, the charter school shall be included in that district’s LEA. The law provides that the LEA (either the district or the charter school itself, as stated above) is responsible for providing and funding special education services.

4

Illinois

Illinois law addresses special education, but is unclear about responsibility for providing services and for funding low-incident, high- cost services.

2

Indiana

Indiana law addresses special education, but does not provide clarity regarding which entity is the local education agency (LEA) responsible for providing special education services and regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

2

Iowa

Iowa law requires charter schools to remain part of the district LEA, so the school district is responsible for special education services. It also requires the funding to flow to the district (part of which also flows through to the Area Education Agency, which has the responsibility for providing special education services and technical assistance).

8

Kansas

Kansas law is silent about special education responsibilities and funding. In practice, the district is the LEA.

0

Louisiana

The law provides that any Type 1B, 2, or 5 charter school shall be considered the local education agency for funding purposes and statutory definitions pursuant to rules adopted by the state board. The law provides that the local school board shall remain the local education agency for any Type 1, 3, or 4 charter school. The law provides that a Type 5 charter school shall have the option to remain its own local education agency for funding purposes and statutory definitions upon conversion to a Type 3B charter school pursuant to rules adopted by the state board.

The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

4

Maine

If a local school board approves a charter school, the school district is the LEA for the school and has responsibility for special education services. If the State Charter Schools Commission approves a charter school, the charter school is the LEA and responsible for special education.

Statute provides that the district of residence must send any federal or state aid attributable to a student with a disability in proportion to the level for services for that student that the charter school provides directly or indirectly. However, if a local school board or a collaborative of local school boards authorizes a public charter school in which a student is enrolled, the law provides that special education funds must be paid to the local school board that authorized the school or to the designated school board of the collaborative, rather than directly to the school. The law provides that the local school board or boards that authorized the school are responsible for ensuring that special education services are provided to students in that school.

Statute indicates that the state department of education must pay to a public charter school any additional allocation assigned to the school because of a high-cost in-district placement in accordance with state law in the year in which the allocation is assigned and that the school administrative unit of residence must pay to a public charter school any additional allocation assigned to the unit because of a high-cost out-of-district placement in accordance with state law in the year in which the allocation is assigned to the school administrative unit.

8

Maryland

Maryland law is silent about special education responsibilities and funding. In practice, the district authorizer is the LEA.

0

Massachusetts

Massachusetts law provides that charter schools must comply with the state’s special education statutes provided, however, that the fiscal responsibility of any special needs student currently enrolled in or determined to require a private day or residential school shall remain with the school district where the student resides. It also provides that if a charter school expects that a special needs student currently enrolled in the charter school may be in need of the services of a private day or residential school, the school must convene an individual education plan team meeting for said student.

8

Michigan

Michigan law provides that charter schools are entities independent from traditional school districts and are thus the LEA for special education purposes.

The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount or in a manner similar to other LEAs. In practice, however, intermediate school districts (ISD) provide support for low-incident, high-cost special needs children for all LEAs in their region, including charter schools. Yet, how this matter is handled may vary by ISD since detailed provisions do not exist in statute.

4

Minnesota

Minnesota law provides that charter schools are the LEAs for special education services and any such funds flow directly to them. In addition, it provides that charter schools may bill a student's resident school district for any additional funds needed to cover excess costs over and above the state and federal funds allocated for that student. Minnesota law provides that charter schools with at least 90% special education students are eligible for accelerated regular special education aid payments. The law also provides that schools have to pay 10% of the excess cost that’s billed back to districts.

8

Mississippi

State law provides that a charter school must function as a local educational agency, and as such, a charter school is responsible for meeting the requirements of local educational agencies under applicable federal laws, including those relating to special education, receipt of funds and compliance with funding requirements. According to the law, status as a local educational agency does not preclude a charter school from developing, by mutual agreement or formal contract, links with the local school district for services, resources and programs. The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other local educational agencies. However, subject to the approval of the state authorizer, the law allows a charter school and a local school district to negotiate and enter into a contract for the provision of and payment for special education services, including, but not necessarily limited to, a reasonable reserve not to exceed 5% of the local school district's total budget for providing special education services. It provides that the reserve may be used by the local school district only to offset excess costs of providing services to students with disabilities enrolled in the charter school.

4

Missouri

Missouri law provides that a charter school must provide special education services and may provide them pursuant to a contract with the district or any other entity for services. The law requires the state to provide the proportionate share of state and federal resources for students with disabilities and staff that serve them to charter schools enrolling those students. The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

4

Nevada

Nevada law provides that the State Public Charter School Authority is the LEA for charters authorized by it and a college or university within the Nevada System of Higher Education. The law does not provide similar clarity for charters authorized by school districts or regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

The law provides that if the governing body of a charter school determines that the charter school is unable to provide an appropriate special education program and related services for a particular disability of a pupil who is enrolled in the charter school, the governing body may request that the board of trustees of the school district of the county in which the pupil resides transfer that pupil to an appropriate school.

2

New Hampshire

New Hampshire law provides that the funding and educational decision-making process for children with disabilities attending a chartered public school is the responsibility of the resident district and must retain all current options available to the parent and to the school district.

Although the law clearly indicates that the district is the local educational agency responsible for providing special education services, it does not specify how low-incident, high cost services are to be handled.

4

New Jersey

Under New Jersey law, the school is the local education agency for special education. The law requires the school to provide and fund special education services except for low-incident, high-cost students, for which the resident school district takes the responsibility and funding obligation.

8

New Mexico

New Mexico law provides that: charter schools must comply with all applicable state and federal laws and rules related to providing special education services; charter school students with disabilities and their parents retain all rights under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and its implementing state and federal rules; each charter school is responsible for identifying, evaluating, and offering a free appropriate public education to all eligible children who are accepted for enrollment in that charter school; and a state-chartered charter school, as a local educational agency, shall assume responsibility for determining students' needs for special education and related services.

The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

4

New York

Under New York law, a charter schools is a school within a school district LEA for special education purposes, with the school district LEA in which the student resides ultimately responsible for providing special education services as well as creating and evaluating the students’ progress on the individualized education program. The law provides charter schools with the choice of whether to provide services directly, hire a third party to provide them, or ask the district to provide them. The law requires districts to provide certain funding to the charter school where the school itself provides such services, but such funding is significantly less than what the district would otherwise provide if the student were enrolled in a district school.

There are provisions in the law and regulations that provide supplemental high cost aid for high-cost services for charter schools for students with low incidence, relatively severe disabilities.

8

North Carolina

North Carolina law provides that public charter schools must comply with state and federal laws pertaining to special education, but it is unclear about which entity is the local education agency (LEA) responsible for providing special education services and is unclear about funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

Although this information is not counted within this analysis (since these provisions are not codified in state law or state board policy), the state board’s charter application makes it clear that a public charter school cannot deny admission to any child eligible for special education services and that the school is required to provide a full continuum of services to meet the unique needs of all students with disabilities and the state board’s charter contract designates the charter school as the LEA for purposes of meeting special education requirements pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

2

Ohio

Under state law, the charter school is the LEA responsible for providing special education services. The law requires a school district board of education or educational service center governing board to negotiate with a charter school governing authority that seeks to contract for the provision of services for a disabled student in the same manner as it would with the board of education of a school district that seeks to contract for such services.

The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

4

Oklahoma

Oklahoma law states that charter schools are their own local education agencies and specifies that a charter school must comply with all federal and state laws relating to the education of children with disabilities in the same manner as a school district. The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools.

4

Oregon

Oregon law provides that responsibility for providing special education services resides with the school district in which a charter school is located and provides that the district of location is eligible to receive high-cost disabilities grants for charter school students from the state as provided by state law.

8

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law provides that charter schools are considered an LEA for the purposes of special education and that per-pupil special education funds flow from the LEA of residence to the charter school, based on the district’s average per-pupil expenditure per special education student the prior year.

Pennsylvania law allows charter schools to request the intermediate unit to assist in providing special-needs services at a cost no more than that charged for school district students. It also provides a contingency fund to which charter schools and schools districts can apply for exceptional circumstances funding.

8

Rhode Island

Rhode Island law addresses special education, but is unclear about responsibility for providing services and funding for low-incident, high-cost services. It states that charter schools are subject to the same special education requirements as traditional public schools, and are thus responsible for providing special education services as required by law.

2

South Carolina

South Carolina law provides that an authorizer of a charter school is the charter school’s Local Education Agency (LEA) and a charter school is a school within that LEA. It also states that authorizers retain responsibility for special education and must ensure that students enrolled in their charter schools are served in a manner consistent with LEA obligations under applicable federal, state, and local law.

It does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

4

Tennessee

Tennessee law requires charter schools to provide special education services for students, but does not provide clarity regarding which entity is the LEA responsible for providing special education services and regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools (in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other LEAs).

2

Texas

Texas law provides that open-enrollment charter schools are required to provide special education services per the IDEA and that a school district-authorized charter school is part of the LEA that is the school district. The law does not provide clarity regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools in the same amount and/or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

4

Utah

Utah law provides that a charter school is the LEA for special education purposes. In addition to federal funding, Utah law provides funding for special education students. However, the law does not specify how low-incidence, high-cost cases are to be funded.

4

Virginia

Virginia law provides that the proportionate share of state and federal resources allocated for students with disabilities and school personnel assigned to special education programs be directed to public charter schools enrolling such students, but does not provide clear identification of which entity is the LEA responsible for providing special education services nor regarding funding for low-incident, high-cost services for charter schools. In practice, the authorizing school district is the LEA.

2

Washington

Statute notes that charter schools function as a local education agency and are responsible for meeting the requirements related to individuals with disabilities. There are no provisions regarding low-incident, high cost services.

4

Wisconsin

Wisconsin law addresses special education, but is unclear about responsibility for providing services and funding for low-incident, high-cost services. In practice, however, a charter school authorized by a city, university, or technical college is its own LEA. A charter school that is sponsored by a local school board may be either part of the school district LEA that authorized it or its own LEA.

2

Wyoming

Wyoming law provides that the local school district authorizer is the local education agency for special education purposes and responsible for providing and funding services to charter schools.

4