A Much-Needed Resource for Charter School Authorizers

By: Paul O'Neill

There is nothing easy about public education, but there are quite a few things that raise the level of difficulty even higher. One of these is meeting the needs of students with disabilities. Another is engaging in effective oversight of charter school programs. 

A new resource from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) and the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS) provides crucial, comprehensive guidance regarding the crossroads of these two challenges.

Their toolkit highlights best practices with the hopes that more authorizers will consider the needs of students with disabilities during each phase of the charter school lifecycle. For example, the toolkit offers a useful summary of applicable laws and regulations; profiles exemplary authorizers who are effectively addressing special education; and addresses important financial considerations relating to special education in charter schools.

Meeting the needs of students with a wide range of disabilities and navigating layers of federal and state compliance obligations is a complex challenge. By providing authorizers with critical information and empowering them to ensure that schools understand and meet the challenges of serving all students, we are hopeful that supports and services for students in charter schools will improve.

Access the Special Education Toolkit here!

A New Special Education Leader for California

By: Paul O'Neill, Senior Fellow

The California Department of Education (CDE) just announced that it has selected Kristin Wright to be the state’s new Special Education Division Director, effective September 1.  The CDE has chosen an experienced, capable and thoughtful director to lead its special education work, serving more than 700,000 students with disabilities and their families.  Ms. Wright brings a long tenure with the state through a range of impactful positions, as well as years of work as a researcher examining disability issues. Ms. Wright is also the mother of a child with significant mental and physical disabilities.

The National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS) is particularly pleased that Ms. Wright has been chosen for this position because her career reflects a commitment to equitably serving students with disabilities across public schools, including charter schools.  She has done important research on how charter schools provide special education services, and has served for years as a trustee on the NCSECS governing board. California has approximately 1,130 charter schools; more, by far, than any other state. That gives the state an opportunity to prominently model best practices and innovative ideas that can be replicated elsewhere. We are confident that through her leadership Ms. Wright will help California ensure that families of students with disabilities can choose charter schools, and that those who do so will be excellently and equitably served. 

Click here to see the full press release from CDE.