Frequently Asked Questions About Charter Schools and Special Education
If my child has a disability (an IEP or 504 plan), can he/she 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 use 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 most charters and DCPS. However, not ALL charter schools participate; check out this list to see which schools are participating. If you don’t see the one that interests you, contact the school and ask about their application process.
This application process usually opens in December and closes in March (be sure to check My School DC for deadlines). Once your child has been been enrolled, share copies of his/her IEP and evaluation reports. The school cannot require this information until your child is enrolled, and cannot make it a contingency to hold their seat.