NCSECS Receives Walton Family Foundation Grant to Support Critical Work to Ensure Students with Disabilities have Ready Access to Charter Schools That Are Prepared to Enable Them to Succeed

Award Will Support Organization’s Work to Initiate, Foster, and Assist in the Development of Strategies, Programs, and Supports for Students With Disabilities in Charter Schools

NCSECS is excited to announce that we have been awarded a two-year grant for a total of $905,000 from the Walton Family Foundation that will support our work on behalf of students with disabilities interested in attending charter schools.

The core of everything we do at NCSECS is based on data and these new funds are going to help us continue to identify new and promising practices related to educating students with disabilities through ongoing research, analysis, and technical assistance.


We are especially excited about the opportunity to expand our local work in cities such as Camden, New Orleans, Newark, and Washington, DC – partnering with authorizers, educators, parents, and administrators to accelerate and track the adoption of best practices that will have a positive impact on not only access, but the quality of supports and services provided to students with disabilities.


We will also be conducting a secondary analysis of the biennial Civil Rights Data Collection administered by the U.S. Department of Education, with the goal of tracking enrollment, service provision, and discipline trends for students with disabilities in traditional schools as well as charter public schools. We will share findings with charter school leaders, policymakers, parents, and the broader K-12 education community in order to inform discussions focused on educating students with disabilities.

In addition to our work in target locations, NCSECS will also continue our advocacy work at the federal, state and local levels, striving to encourage adoption of policies and practices that support charter school development of quality supports and services for students with a diverse range of learning differences. To accomplish our goals, we are building meaningful partnerships with leading special education and charter school advocacy organizations around the country such as the Council for Exceptional Children, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and National Center for Learning Disabilities. 


We are seeing progress being made in the charter sector in terms of access and commitment to developing exemplary programs for students with disabilities. We attribute that progress to the relentless work of advocates, parents, and education leaders around the country who are standing up for students with disabilities.


But we have more work to do, and the more we document and disseminate facts, communicate with policymakers and decision makers, and build coalitions among key stakeholders, the more progress we will make.  We are grateful for the Walton Family Foundation’s support and look forward to sharing the results of our work with you in the very near future. To learn more about our multiple initiatives, research, and resources, visit: or follow us @NCSECS.

Statement Regarding Secretary DeVos' Possible Delay of the Obama Administration's Special Education Ruling

October 26, 2017
Lauren Morando Rhim, Ph.D. Executive Director,and CoFounder
The facts are clear: minority students are disproportionately identified as students with disabilities as well as suspended and expelled at higher rates than their peers. This should alarm Secretary DeVos and trigger a sense of urgency to fix the problem, not kick it down the road for two years.  We strongly urge the Secretary to rethink the decision to give schools a pass and take this opportunity to show the country that not only are we committed to improving the situation for minority students, but that we are committed to the highest quality supports and services for all students with learning differences.

New Certification Regulations in NY May Solve One Problem but Create Another

NCSECS Executive Director, Lauren Morando Rhim released the following statement in response to the State University of New York's (SUNY) vote to approve regulations that will allow some charter schools to certify their own teachers:

"While we are glad that the developments in New York have shed light on the shortage of teachers, and especially special education teachers, in this country, we are concerned that opening the door for charter schools to certify their own educators may solve one problem but create another. To be successful, public schools need more exemplary educators with sufficient training and experience. Creating pathways that lack adequate training (e.g., only 40 hours of practice time) runs the risk of hurting rather than helping schools committed to improving the outcomes for at-risk students, particularly students with disabilities. Instead of attempting to solve problems on a one-off basis, we urge education leaders to take a step back and develop policies that will ensure all students — including students with disabilities -- have trained teachers who are prepared to lead their classrooms as soon as they enter the profession."


Story in Chalkbeat:

Story in NYT:

NACSA Authorizer Voices Series: Serving Students with Unique Needs

Featuring NCSECS Executive Director, Lauren Morando Rhim, the fifth video short in NACSA's Authorizer Voices series centers on how authorizers ensure access to charter schools for students with unique needs. Authorizers first give parents quality options. They leverage school autonomy. They expect schools to reflect their neighborhoods and cities. And they partner with schools to fix problems.

See the video here.

NCSECS' Letter to the Department of Education Regarding Evaluation of Existing Regulations and Guidance

Today, the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools submitted formal comments to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) related to its Regulatory Reform Task Force initiative to evaluate existing education regulations and guidance.

Highlights of NCSECS recommendations related to charter schools and special education students include:

  • Maintain and enforce all Federal education and civil rights laws, related regulations, and guidance;
  • Continue to prohibit charter schools from discriminating against students with disabilities;
  • Fully maintain the following Non-Regulatory Guidance and Dear Colleague Letters: 

Read NCSECS' full comments to ED here.