Charter schools in the District of Columbia want to get special education right.

The provision of special education services has been a challenge for public charter schools in Washington, DC and across the U.S.  For many charters, a lack of financial resources is coupled with a complex set of federal special education regulations that charter school leaders must navigate.  While school districts in most states provide special education services to charter schools, the DC Public School system does not leaving individual charters with the responsibility and obligations to decipher and comply with special education policy and procedures. The Cooperative helps to ensure the voices of the member schools are heard and their issues are addressed.

The Cooperative has developed effective working relationships with personnel at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and the Public Charter School Board (PCSB).  This frequent and direct communication ensures that charter schools are represented in policy discussions and have access to professional development, funding and other opportunities.

The Cooperative works with various agencies and organizations in the District to creatively solve problems and improve the provision of special education services in DC charters. We also facilitate information and resource sharing among charter schools. Recent activities include:

City Agency Collaboration:

  • Member of DC SAP (State Advisory Panel for special education)
  • Participation in several city-wide work groups including: Special Education Data System, Section 504, IDEA C to B Transition, Secondary Transition, and School Based Medicaid
  • DC Inclusive Schools Week Planning Committee
  • Convened round table for the Chair of the DC Council’s Education Committee
  • Convened focus group of charter school staff to discuss Special Education Data System data quality and reporting with OSSE
  • Participant on the State Early Childhood Development Coordinating Council’s Early Intervention and Family Support Sub-committee

Community Collaboration:

  • Led quarterly “Sped-U-Tours” of DC LEAs to share the great work being done at local charter schools
  • Participated in the “Know Your Rights” parent panel convened by DC Office of the Student Advocate and Ward 5 Council on Education
  • Presented at Fight For Children’s “Ahead of the Curve” Conference and Joe’s Champs PD days

Facilitating Collaboration among LEAs:

  • Convened a Special Education Continuum round table for charter schools
  • Convened a Middle to High School Transition round table for charter schools

Collaboration at the National Level:

  • Presented at the National Alliance for Public Charter School’s Annual Conference
  • Participated in the Symposium on Special Education in Charter Schools with leaders of charter support organization from around the US