April 2019 Newsletter
Apr 23

April 2019 Newsletter


April 22, 2019

Partnership and collaboration The Center’s critical to achieving our mission. We hope that our newsletter helps inform and empower you to take action in your area. Email info@ncsecs.org to discuss how to improve special education in charter schools near you.

The Center is excited to welcome two talented board members to support our work on behalf of students with disabilities.

Sam Drazin is a former elementary educator and the Founder/Executive Director of Changing Perspectives, a national nonprofit organization which provides disability awareness programs in schools. Sam consults with schools around inclusion, positive climate, and culture.
Marcia (Marty) Mittnacht comes to the Board with many years of experience in special education. Marty worked with the Massachusetts Department of Education on special education from 1989 to 2016. Marty retired with the title of Associate Commissioner for Special Education.

Speaking of organizational growth… The Center is hiring for a Policy Specialist position! Feel free to forward if you know anyone interested in joining a great organization deeply committed to advocating for students with disabilities. It’s a great early career position for an aspiring policy wonk. See here for more details.

School choice systems – including charter schools – present unique policy and legal challenges for students with disabilities. Published this month in the Oxford Handbook of U.S. Education Law, The Center’s Senior Fellow Paul O’Neill, Board Member Robert Garda, and Wendy Hensel examine the interplay of such systems with U.S. laws regarding students with disabilities: IDEA, Section 504, and Title II of the ADA. Challenges and barriers are examined, and solutions are proposed that consider both the laws regarding students with disabilities and the structures of the choice programs.
The Century Foundation released a new report, “Advancing Intentional Equity in Charter Schools,” which focuses on how charter schools “can and should play a role in realizing longstanding national commitment to equal educational opportunity.” The report highlights that this requires “attention from policymakers at all levels and throughout each stage of the charter school authorization cycle,” especially planning, oversight, and complaint procedures.
Tennessee schools continue to struggle in educating students with disabilities, 4,000 of whom attend charter schools. The achievement gap between students with disabilities and their peers without, for example, sits at 25%. These students seek and deserve the same quality options as their peers. The Center urges the General Assembly to commit to using public dollars to increase school choice only when the legislation includes protections to guarantee that those schools deliver quality education to all students, including students with disabilities.
The National Center for Learning Disabilities issued a statement concerning the college admissions cheating scandal, warning that this “will only serve to increase the stigma around learning disabilities and cause testing companies and universities to tighten their policies and increase scrutiny of accommodation requests.”
When Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed to cut millions of dollars in funding for Special Olympics last month, public outrage and bipartisan pushback forced President Trump to restore it days later. The Trump administration’s fiscal year 2020 budget, however, is still full of cuts directly aimed at many programs, agencies, and offices that support individuals with disabilities and provide them with essential resources.
Best Buddies announced the launch of their Best Buddies Living flagship residence in Westwood, California after launching its fourth and newest mission pillar, Inclusive Living. The Best Buddies Living program “will provide individuals with and without intellectual and developmental delays the opportunity to live together in an integrated community that focuses on supporting all residents in accomplishing their life goals and dreams.”

The Center on the Road

If you will be at any of the following upcoming events, we look forward to connecting with you.

  • April 24 in Denver, CO: Advancing Inclusive Principal Leadership (AIPL) State Initiative First Convening*
  • May 3-4 in Seattle, WA: Washington State Charter Schools Association Conference 2019
  • May 6-7 in Seattle, WA: Partners in Progress: Sharing Strategies for Serving Students with Disabilities (Convening)
  • May 8-9 in Oakland, CA: NewSchools Venture Fund’s Annual NewSchools Summit
  • May 10-11 in Denver, CO: Relay Special Education Hackathon
  • May 16-17 in Los Angeles, CA: LAUSD Symposium
  • May 30-31 in New Orleans, LA: We Can Do Better Together:
    Developing a High Quality Continuum of Services for Students with Disabilities in New Orleans (Convening)

*The Council of Chief State Schools Officers is doubling down on efforts to create inclusive learning environments for students with disabilities by providing principals with actionable tools focused on increasing and improving inclusion.




Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Center's staff is currently working remotely. Please email info@ncsecs.org with any questions and we will direct you to the appropriate member of our staff.Email Us