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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Charter Schools and Civil Rights

Catherin Lhamon, Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, has a letter to charter schools:
Free appropriate public education for students with disabilities.18 Under Section 504, every student with a disability enrolled in a public school, including a public charter school, must be provided a free appropriate public education–that is, regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet his or her individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met.19 Evaluation and placement procedures are among the requirements that must be followed if a student needs, or is believed to need, special education or related services due to a disability.20
Charter schools may not ask or require students or parents to waive their right to a free appropriate public education in order to attend the charter school. Additionally, charter schools must provide nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities in such a manner that students with disabilities are given an equal opportunity to participate in these services and activities.21 More information will be provided in joint guidance that OCR and OSERS plan to issue on the rights of students with disabilities who attend charter schools.
 18 IDEA also has a specific statutory definition of the term free appropriate public education. 20 U.S.C. § 1401(9) and 34 C.F.R. § 300.17. This letter does not address the IDEA definition of free appropriate public education or other related IDEA requirements.
19 34 C.F.R. § 104.33(b)(1).
20 34 C.F.R. § 104.35.
21 34 C.F.R. § 104.37; see also OCR, Dear Colleague letter on Extracurricular Athletics (January 25, 2013), available at