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Students With Disabilities In Charter Schools

Letter Head: Jack O'Connell, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Phone number 916-319-0800

Date: October 16, 2006

Dear Charter School Operators and Special Education Local Plan Area Directors:

Enrollment Of Students With Disabilities In Charter Schools

Federal law and regulation prohibit any public school, including charter schools, from denying admission to any student on the basis of a disability, or the nature of or extent of a disability. More specifically, a student with disabilities must be afforded the opportunity to participate in a charter school (Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Section 104.4(b)(1)(i); Section 504, Vocational Rehabilitation Act; Title II, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; California Government Code Section 11135; California Education Code (EC) Section 220). Further, EC Section 47605(d)(1) states a charter school “shall not discriminate against any pupil on the basis of…disability.” “A charter school shall admit all pupils who wish to attend [charter] school” (EC Section 47605(d)(2)(A)) except as provided by those provisions related to a public random drawing. Despite the existence or lack of a program for a student with disabilities at a charter school, enrollment may not be denied (CFR Section 104.4(b)(3); EC Section 47646(a)).

As California public schools, charter schools are subject to Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended in 2004 (IDEA). Students with disabilities attending charter schools and their families retain all rights under IDEA (34 CFR Section 300.209(a)). Students with disabilities enrolled in charter schools must receive services in the same manner and to the same extent as other schools (34 CFR Section 300.209(b)(1)(i)). To assure adequate resources, monies apportioned for the purposes of special education must be expended exclusively for special education programs (EC Section 56836.04(b)).

If violations of special education law and regulations are alleged, there can be a request for direct state intervention to investigate the specific allegation(s). This may be accomplished by telephoning the Procedural Safeguards Referral Service Unit at 800-926-0648, or by contacting the unit through the mail at:

Procedural Safeguards Referral Service
Special Education Division
California Department of Education
1430 N Street, Suite 2401
Sacramento, CA 95814-5901

A complaint alleging discrimination in enrollment practices, or any other violation of a federal or state law or regulation may be filed by way of the Uniform Complaint Procedures (UCP) as written in the CCR, Title 5, sections 4600-4687. For additional information on the UCP, contact Categorical Programs Complaints Management Unit by telephone at 916-445-9174, by mail at

Office of Equal Opportunity
Legal and Audits Branch
California Department of Education
1430 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814-5901

Complaints regarding discrimination may also be filed with:

Office for Civil Rights
United States Department of Education
Region IX, Old Federal Building
50 United Nations Plaza, Room 239
San Francisco, CA 94102

Telephone: 800-421-3481
Fax: 415-556-7783

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Jennifer Faukner, Special Education Consultant, Special Education Division, at 916-323-9778 or by e-mail at jfaukner@cde.ca.gov. [Note, the preceding contact information is no longer valid and has been been replaced by your Focused Monitoring and Technical Assistance consultant.]

Sincerely,

Original signed by Mary Hudler and Marta Reyes. Hard copy of the signed document is available by contacting the Special Education Division's Director's Office at 916-445-4602.

Mary Hudler, Director
Special Education Division

Marta Reyes, Director
Charter School Division

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