A Much Needed Regulation

This is important, because excluding the disabled, and other students who need extra help, is the “Secret Sauce” of charter schools.

It allows them to create the appearance of exceptional performance on the cheap:

State law already requires that a charter school admit any student who applies. In his May budget revision, Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing to tighten the language banning discrimination in charter school enrollment, particularly to protect students with disabilities and students with poor grades who want to attend charter schools.


In return for receiving public funding, charter schools must have open admissions and hold a lottery when there are more applicants than spaces. School districts have complained that some of the state’s 1,300-plus charter schools have discouraged families with academically struggling students and special education students with high-cost needs from signing up. Others counsel students who are struggling academically to leave school mid-year to boost schoolwide test scores, districts say.


Charges that charter schools deliberately select top student applicants have been largely anecdotal, which is why Newsom is proposing a uniform complaint policy that allows parents to file a grievance if they believe they were discriminated against. He also wants to explore using state Smarter Balanced testing and other data to identify enrollment disparities “that may warrant inquiry and intervention,” his budget stated.

Three years ago, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the public interest law firm Public Advocates released a report that found that about a fifth of charter schools had admissions policies that improperly excluded students based on grades, pre-enrollment interviews, a parental participation requirement, or that required citizenship documentation and a minimum level of English language proficiency. The report was based on a review of charter schools’ websites and most charter schools responded by removing pages they said were outdated and didn’t reflect their current policies.

Newsom’s proposed statute would specify that charter schools cannot request or require parents to submit student records before enrolling. And it would require that charter schools post parental rights on their websites and make parents aware of them during enrollment and when students are expelled or leave during the year.

The proposed statute implies there should be no allowances “for any reason” that might discourage any pupil from enrolling in a charter school.

It’s a good start.

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