Breaking News: ACLU finds many illegal policies in Charter Schools
A new report released today by the ACLU and Public Advocates (a California civil rights organization) entitled Unequal Access: How Some California Charter Schools Illegally Restrict Enrollment has found a variety of illegal policies in charters schools. The ACLU and Public Advocates report examines charters schools policies across the state of California and details how they are failing students. In this report, they provide (1) an analysis of illegal charter school policies; (2) a description of the framework of laws that prohibit exclusionary policies; and (3) recommendations to ensure equal admission. This report can be a guide for ACLU chapters and civil rights organizations across the nation to hold charters accountable for following federal and state law.
I received an advance copy, I will link the report as soon as it is made publicly available.
The ACLU and Public Advocates write:
The original vision of charter schools in the 1990s was to provide new opportunities to improve the quality of education for thousands of students living in under-resourced communities. However, charter schools can also heighten existing inequities. Through admissions policies that exclude vulnerable students by erecting various barriers to entry, charter schools have the potential to create a two-tiered system of public education. We believe charter schools are viable only if they are open to all students.
Although charter schools may be privately controlled and receive non-government funding, they are part of California’s public education system. The California Constitution requires that all students, whether they choose to attend traditional public schools or charter schools, have equal access to educational opportunity. Like other public schools, it is illegal for charter schools to select which students to enroll. The state legislature made this principle clear in the California Charter Schools Act, which plainly requires charter schools to “admit all pupils who wish to attend.”In other words, except for limitations due to space, charter schools may not enact admissions requirements or other barriers to enrollment and must admit all students who apply, just as traditional public schools cannot turn away students.