Parents play a critical role in their child’s school success.


Active participation by parents of children with disabilities offers the school community a unique perspective that helps administrators, teachers, and even other parents learn more about how to create an equitable learning environment for all children. While the Co-op doesn’t directly offer services to families, we recognize that parents are essential partners in helping DC charter schools improve their programs for students with disabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Charter Schools and Special Education

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!

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.

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 enrolled, share copies of their 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.

For general information about charter schools and a listing of all charters in DC, visit the DC Charter School Alliance and the Public Charter School Board.

Charter schools are public schools and by law can not refuse to enroll a student based on their special education needs. A school may not have every type of special education service in place all the time – they may not have any students who need it! However, charter schools are required to implement IEPs for any student they enroll.