Frequently Asked Questions About Charter Schools and Special Education
Can my child with special needs go to a charter school?
Yes! Charter schools are public schools, and are open to any child living in DC. All charters must provide special education and related services for students with disabilities. Charters can’t refuse to enroll a child because he/she has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or disability. If a child is enrolled in a charter school and the IEP team feels it can not meet the student’s needs, the team may request a change in placement, and works with DC’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to find a more appropriate school for the child. Remember, as a parent, YOU are part of the IEP team!
How do I choose the right charter school for my child?
Many charter schools have unique programs that may be a good fit for your child. For example some schools focus on technology, arts, or provide some instruction in another language. Many follow an inclusion model for meeting student needs. Call schools and ask about their programs. Consider your child’s interests and strengths and how they fit with the school’s program. Attend open houses where you can meet teachers and visit classrooms.
How do I apply for or enroll my child in a charter school?
You can apply through My School DC – the common application and lottery for DC’s public school options. The common application includes many charters and DCPS. However, not ALL charter schools participate, so it’s best to call the school and ask about their application process.
Applications are usually available in December and due in February or March. If a charter school has more applicants than spaces, it is required to hold a lottery and maintain a waiting list. Once your child has been offered a space at the school, share copies of his/her IEP and evaluation reports. The school cannot require this information until you have been offered a space, and cannot make it a contingency to hold the space.
Children with Special Needs and Public Charter Schools – an information sheet for parents