York Charter System Would Violate IDEA, Law Center Says

Together with the Education Law Center-PA, we filed an amicus brief in the case about the proposed district-wide charter system in the York City School District.

The district has been guided by a chief recovery officer (CRO) since December 2012. The CRO created a plan that would convert all eight school buildings in the district into charter schools. In December 2014, the CRO was granted receivership, which gives the CRO sole authority over the district, other than taxing powers.

The Law Center filed its brief on behalf of the Arc of Pennsylvania and the Movant-York NAACP chapter because the receivership and the district-wide charter system would violate the rights of the approximately 1,350 children with disabilities in the district. Specifically, students with disabilities would either be assigned one of these charter schools, or if the parents rejected this option, assigned to cyber programs. This placement would occur regardless of parent input and without consideration of whether or not the placement would provide a child would a free, appropriate public education.

A predetermined placement violates the core mandates of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It violates the parental participation mandate, as well as the mandate that the students be placed in the least restrictive environment. In addition, the CRO’s plan does not address whether the placements would include necessary and appropriate services for children with disabilities.

According to the brief, “Each of these 1,350 students is entitled to notice of the proposed placement, an [Individualized Education Plan] Team meeting to determine the student’s placement, an individualized decision-making process which includes parent participation and the opportunity to challenge a proposed placement through due process hearing. However, the proposed plan fails to address how any of this would occur – how notice would be provided, meetings held, etc., or how the needs of student with disabilities would be addressed as required by federal and state law.”

Click here to read the full brief.