The National CMO Special Education Network - Connecting Special Education Professionals

The charter sector cannot fulfill the responsibilities central to being a public school absent a coherent and coordinated effort to improve the capacity of individual schools to provide quality special education and related services. Focused efforts to cultivate and distribute policies and practices that ensure charter schools welcome and provide exemplary services to students with disabilities are urgently needed. A few dozen networks of charter schools operated by nonprofit charter management organizations are positioned to be thought leaders in the area of effective and innovative special education practice, but lack the required support and focused facilitation to fulfill this role. In response to this need, NCSECS is launching the “National CMO Special Education Network” to provide thought leadership and facilitate and catalyze knowledge acquisition by CMOs across the country.

The Network will explore ways that charter school networks can create, implement and share promising practices for serving students with disabilities and specifically students with low-incidence disabilities. Additionally, the Network will focus on documenting and disseminating evidenced-based solutions, developing cross-organization collaboration and incubating innovative approaches to addressing pressing special education human capital needs. Given that CMOs operate multiple schools and have the means to focus resources and distribute best practices, they are ideal partners to collaborate with regarding improving special education practice in charter schools

As we move forward, the following principles will guide this work:

Network Objectives

  • Foster open networking opportunities for CMO special education personnel to collaborate and cultivate thought leadership.

  • Facilitate and deliver consultative technical assistance and robust professional development.

  • Collect and disseminate tools and resources including best practices and innovative approaches developed by CMOs.

Network Principles

  • Students with disabilities have a right to choose charter schools.

  • Charter schools should leverage their autonomy to develop effective strategies to serve students with disabilities.

  • Inclusive enrollment policies and procedures and high quality special education programs are essential to enrolling and retaining students with a diverse array of disabilities.

  • Discipline policies cannot disproportionately impact students with disabilities.

  • Charter school leadership must wholeheartedly embrace inclusive teaching and inclusive student communities.

If you or your organization are interested in joining the National CMO Special Education Network, contact Megan Ohlssen, Managing Director of Programs.