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Dispelling Myths About Charter Schools and Special Needs Students

A stay-at-home mom with a child with Aspergers syndrome wants to set the record straight on charter schools and children with special needs.

Editor's note: Following is an op-ed from Cheryl Krichbaum, a stay-at-home mom who lives in Senoia, GA. She found Peachtree Corners Patch while searching for information on Asperger's syndrome and wanted to express her opinion on the upcoming vote on the Charter School Amendment and how it relates to children with special needs.

 

MYTH: Charter schools do not accept children with special needs.

Whether in Atlanta or further out in the state—people with titles have perpetuated the myth that charter schools do not accept children with special needs.

FACT: My special needs child is enrolled in a charter school.

 Myth busted.

Not only did Coweta Charter Academy at Senoia (CCAS) accept my child legally through the lottery system, but they are doing an exceptional job of working with him and with me to provide the best learning environment and the best learning opportunities for him. I couldn’t be happier.

Here’s how the enrollment process works. By law, all public schools have to accept all children, including children with disabilities, and charter schools are public schools. Because space in charter schools is often limited, they enroll students based on a lottery system. This means that students are chosen at random (usually by a computer) until all the open seats are filled. Any remaining students are put on a wait list so that if a parent chooses not to accept the spot, the spot will be offered to the next student on the wait list.

Children with special needs are included in this process just like all other students, and the school does not know whether a child has special needs until he or she is actually enrolled in the school. It is against the law for the school to discriminate.

I am being vocal about the charter amendment for two reasons:

1. I am extremely happy with our charter school. If the school were not doing a good job, I’d be homeschooling and keeping quiet (homeschooling rather than traditional public school because I had a bad experience at our neighborhood school).

2. I hear other special needs parents here in Georgia and across the country talk about their struggles with traditional public schools. There are a lot of individual stories of frustration, and of success, but the bottom line is that the school designated by residence may not be the right school for the child. As parents of special needs children, we need choices.

If you are really concerned about children with special needs, then you will advocate for school choice, which includes charter schools. For children of special needs, vote “Yes” on November 6th.

Cheryl Krichbaum maintains a website, AspergersSyndromeParent.com that provides support and information to parents.

 

Do you have an opinion on the upcoming Charter School Amendment vote or any other topic? Send it to the Peachtree Corners Patch editor. Please include your full name and city in which you reside.

Drive To 24 March 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM
Aspergers? That is a broadly define disorder. Depends on the severity. High functioning children with Aspergers require very little help. I wonder how that charter school would do with a child multiple disabilities.

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