Putting Education Reform To The Test

Federal Report Says Charter Schools Enroll Fewer Students With Disabilities

satguru / Flickr

A federal report finds charter schools enroll a lower percentage of students with disabilities than district schools.

Charter schools enroll fewer students with disabilities than traditional public schools, according to a new U.S. Government Accountability Office report.

The report’s conclusions echo our investigative story from last year that found 86 percent of Florida charter schools do not enroll any children with profound disabilities — compared to more than half of district schools which do.

The GAO report also found the largest gap was for students with intellectual disabilities. District schools enrolled students with disabilities at a rate nearly twice that of charter schools — though those students are a small percentage of the total student body.

But charter schools were more likely than district schools to have high percentages of students with disabilities. That’s likely because of schools such as the UCP charter chain in Orlando and Tampa’s Pepin Academies which specialize in autism or other disabilities.

The report highlighted a handful of reasons why charters may have fewer students with disabilities:

The U.S. Department of Education is currently reviewing whether charter schools are complying with federal disabilities law.

The GAO report is dated June 7, but landed in the middle of a big national charter school conference. UCP CEO Ilene Wilkins wrote on social networking site Twitter that  a panel at the conference was discussing the GAO report.

Their conclusion about why there were fewer students with disabilities in charter schools? Because charters receive less federal money for those students than district schools.


About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »