Measuring Up



weight: 2 | possible total: 8

17. Clear Provisions Regarding Special Education Responsibilities

17A. Clarity regarding which entity is the local education agency (LEA) responsible for providing special education services.

17B. Clarity regarding the flow of federal, state, and local special education funds to the designated LEA.

17C. 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).

17D. Clarity that charter schools have access to all regional and state services and supports available to traditional districts.

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

State

Charter Law Description

Score

Alabama

Alabama law states that start-up charters are their own LEAs and that conversion charters are part of the LEA in which the noncharter public school existed prior to its conversion to a charter.

Alabama law explicitly requires the state to send any federal dollars associated with a special education student directly to the charter school.

4

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. The law details the flow of all funding, including special education funding, to charter schools. Arizona law allows charter schools to access the state’s Extraordinary Special Education Needs fund for low-incident, high cost services for charter schools in the same amount or in a manner similar to other LEAs.

6

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.

While it does not explicitly identify special education funding, Arkansas law does designate the state as responsible for allocating any designated funding to charter schools.

4

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.

The law requires districts to provide their charters with an itemized accounting of all district special education costs along with the basis for any special education charges imposed against their charters.

6

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. It notes that charter schools are eligible to the same extent as boards of education for any special education grants and funding.

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.

6

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. However, the Special Education Quality Improvement Amendment Act of 2014 amended the law by requiring each charter school to be its own LEA for all purposes including special education by August 1, 2017.

The District’s special education funding is allocated according to levels as articulated in the Uniform Per Pupil Funding Formula. The formula is updated every year and applies equally in the same manner and amount across charter schools and DCPS. SPED levels 1-4 are clearly defined in terms of hours of required services per week. If a child is deemed eligible for Level 5 (private non-public placement), the cost is borne by the District. Both DCPS and the charter schools use this formula, so the funding is provided in the same amount as to charters as to other LEAs. Additionally, at-risk funding can be used to provide services to students with special needs. Again, this funding is provided according to the same formula for both charter schools and DCPS.

6

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 explicitly states that charter schools are entitled to any Title I or IDEA funds for which they qualify and they will receive this funding directly from the state department of education.

The law states that districts must provide services to charter schools, but it does not grant blanket access to any state offered services.

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.

2

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 law requires the department to provide them as determined by the IEP. The law also requires the department to collaborate with the state charter school commission to develop guidelines related to the provision of special education services and resources to each charter school and allows the department to 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 is clear that charter schools will not receive funding for special education services.

The law does not explicitly grant charter schools blanket access to department services or programs, but it does acknowledge that the department must provide special education services, though the charter school must pay for them.

4

Idaho

Idaho law states that each charter school authorized by an entity other than a local school board is its 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 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. The law states that the funding associated with special education students shall be allocated to the charter school from federal funds and state funds.

4

Illinois

Illinois law contains a small number of the model law’s provisions regarding special education responsibilities.

State law requires the state board of education to distribute all federal and state special education funds to Commission-authorized charters.

2

Indiana

Indiana provides that charter schools are designated LEAs and provides that federal, state, and local special education funds flow to charter schools. It also permits charter schools to apply directly for any additional federal or state grants or categorical funding intended for students with high-cost, low-incidence disabilities.

6

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).

6

Kansas

Kansas law does not include any of the model law’s provisions regarding special education responsibilities.

0

Louisiana

The law provides that any Type 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 requires that any funding associated with a student qualifying for special education funds shall flow directly to the school.

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.

For each enrolled special education pupil, statute provides that a charter school must receive the average additional allocation calculated by the state department of education for its special education students. Statute also provides that the department shall pay directly to the charter school any federal or state aid attributable to a student with a disability attending the charter school in proportion to the level of services for the student with a disability that the charter school provides directly or indirectly.

Statute indicates that the state department of education must pay to a 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 as an adjustment to the charter school's state contribution. It also provides that the department shall pay to the charter school any additional allocation assigned to the school administrative unit because of a high-cost out-of-district special education placement in accordance with state law in the year in which the allocation is assigned.

6

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.

Massachusetts laws and regulation provide equal access to all applicable categorical federal and state funding, and clear guidance on the pass-through of such funds, including for charter schools that are significantly expanding.

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.

6

Michigan

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

2

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.

6

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.

4

Nevada

Nevada law provides that the State Public Charter School Authority is the LEA for charter schools authorized by it and a college or university within the Nevada System of Higher Education. The law does not provide similar clarity for charter schools 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.

If the authorizer is the State Public Charter School Authority or a college or university within the Nevada System of Higher Education, law and regulation provide that a written charter contract must set forth the responsibilities of the authorizer and the charter school with regard to the provision of services and programs to pupils with disabilities who are enrolled in the charter school in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This provision does not apply to charters authorized by local school boards.

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.

It also provides that a charter school is entitled to receive its proportionate share of any other money available from federal, state, or local sources that the school or the pupils who are enrolled in the school are eligible to receive.

4

New Hampshire

New Hampshire contains a small number of the model law’s provisions regarding special education responsibilities. New Hampshire law provides that the funding and educational decision-making process for children with disabilities attending a charter school is the responsibility of the resident district and must retain all current options available to the parent and to the school district. The law clearly indicates that the district is the local educational agency responsible for providing special education services.

The law provides that funding for charter school students receiving special education services be paid directly to the school district in which the student resides. The law excludes Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funds from the requirement that school districts direct certain federal funds to a charter school.

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.

6

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 provides that portion of money from state or federal programs generated by students enrolled in a locally chartered charter school must be allocated to that charter school serving students eligible for that aid.

The law provides that when a state-chartered charter school is designated as a board of finance pursuant to state law, it must receive state and federal funds for which it is eligible.

The law provides that state-chartered charter schools may apply for all federal funds for which they are eligible and that locally-chartered schools must be included in their district’s consolidated federal application.

4

New York

Under New York law, a charter school 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.

6

North Carolina

North Carolina law contains a small number of the model law’s provisions regarding special education responsibilities.

North Carolina law provides that the state board of education must allocate to each charter school: an amount equal to the average per pupil allocation for average daily membership from the local school administrative unit allotments in which the charter school is located for each child attending the charter school except for the allocation for children with disabilities and for the allocation for children with limited English proficiency; an additional amount for each child attending the charter school who is a child with disabilities; and an additional amount for children with limited English proficiency attending the charter school, based on a formula adopted by the state board.

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 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, with detailed funding provisions for such in the law. The law allows schools to receive payment from the state department for any costs that exceed the threshold catastrophic costs for serving certain disabled students.

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.

8

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 provides that federal dollars flow directly to charter schools and provides a specific, clearly defined process for state dollars.

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.

4

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 provides that federal funds for categorical programs go directly to the charter schools, although there are still some categorical grants structured only for school district eligibility (not LEA eligibility).

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 includes a small number of the model law’s provisions for equitable operational and categorical funding. Rhode Island law provides some general provisions regarding federal funding for special education students in charter schools.

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.

4

Tennessee

Tennessee law includes a small number of the model law’s provisions regarding special education responsibilities. Tennessee law requires charter schools to provide special education services for students.

2

Texas

Texas law provides that open-enrollment charter schools are required to provide special education services per federal law and that a school district-authorized charter school is part of the LEA that is the school district.

Texas law specifies that open-enrollment charter schools are entitled to funds that are available to school districts from the state agency or the state commissioner in the form of grants or other discretionary funding unless the statute authorizing the funding explicitly provides that open-enrollment charter schools are not entitled to the funding. This law doesn’t apply to district-authorized charters.

The law states that an open-enrollment charter school is entitled to the same level of services provided to school districts by regional education service centers.

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.

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 charter schools enrolling such students.

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. The law notes generally addresses supplemental funding for all students with disabilities.

4

Wisconsin

The law provides that independent charter schools are their own LEAs. In practice, 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.

2