Saturday, August 13, 2016

The ACLU says 8 O.C. charter schools wrongly limit enrollment - The Orange County Register

The ACLU says 8 O.C. charter schools wrongly limit enrollment - The Orange County Register:

The ACLU says 8 O.C. charter schools wrongly limit enrollment

Two Orange County charter schools said they will make changes to their websites, and other campuses are reviewing their policies in light of a recently released report from the American Civil Liberties Union that claims hundreds of California charter schools create unfair hurdles for underprivileged students.
The advocacy group’s report accuses eight Orange County schools – more than a quarter of the charter schools here – of having illegal policies.
The O.C. schools targeted: the Orange County Educational Arts Academy, the Orange County School of the Arts, the Samueli Academy, the Santiago Charter Middle School, the Capistrano Connections Academy, the Nova Academy Early College High, the El Rancho Charter School, and the Journey School.
The ACLU accused the public charter schools across California of establishing a variety of barriers for underprivileged students, which might include, depending on the campus:
• Excluding students based on academic performance
• Requiring cumbersome pre-enrollment essays or interviews akin to those at private schools
• Requiring guardians to volunteer or donate money
• Discouraging undocumented students
Many schools said that the ACLU mistakenly used outdated information on their websites that doesn’t reflect the school’s current practices, while other said they would review their policies to ensure inclusion of disadvantaged students.
“It’s a little concerning to us, because those are the same policies students and parents see when they choose what schools to apply to,” said Victor Leung, one of the authors of the report and a staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California.
Ralph Opacic started the Orange County School of the Arts nearly 30 years ago, and said the school created admissions policies that would ensure admitted students could be successful in the campus’s tough arts environment.
With the recent report, Opacic said administrators would ensure disadvantaged students aren’t being left out.
“In light of (the) ACLU’s recent concerns, we will carefully review our policies to ensure that they enable equity and access for all students,” Opacic said in a statement.
At Journey School, a K-8 canpus in Aliso Viejo, a representative said it would change the language on its website so parents can use documents other than a birth certificate for students to be admitted to the school.
The civil rights group said requiring a birth certificate creates an unfair and illegal barrier against undocumented students attending school. The 14th Amendment guarantees undocumented students access to education, the ACLU said.
Charter schools receive state funding like traditional public schools, but many also raise additional funds. Charters have greater control over The ACLU says 8 O.C. charter schools wrongly limit enrollment - The Orange County Register:

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