Learn About Charter School Special Education Funding

From Education Voters of Pennsylvania:
Special education funding for charter schools is a hot topic in Harrisburg.
For the first time ever, we have a real chance to fix Pennsylvania’s charter school law to eliminate profits that charter schools reap off of special education tuition payments and to increase school choice for students with disabilities.
We are delighted to invite you to learn more about this issue from Ed Voters and to hear directly from state lawmakers who are champions of reforms that will benefit taxpayers and students.
We can get charter school funding reforms across the finish line this year, but we need your help.
The charter school industry is fighting tooth and nail to keep their carve-out from Pennsylvania’s special education funding formula. The current law is a cash cow that provides charters with excess special education funding that they can spend on whatever they want.
Register to join us for one (or both!) of the events below:
Tuesday, April 6 at 7:00 pm, State Representative Joe Ciresi, the prime sponsor of charter school reform legislation that would right this wrong, will join us to talk about what is happening in Harrisburg and how advocates can help
Thursday, April 8 at 12:00 pm, State Representative Dan Miller, who has been fighting for the rights of students with disabilities for almost ten years, and Lisa Lightner, parent and advocate for student with disabilities, who has seen firsthand the negative impact this funding system has on students, will join us.
Governor Wolf and state lawmakers have proposed reforms to Pennsylvania’s charter school law that will create parity between school districts and charter schools by using the same special education funding formula for both kinds of schools. These reforms will save nearly $100 million in taxpayer money, help ensure that special education funding is spent on services for student with disabilities–not wasted on advertising, CEO salaries, and more– and increase school choice for students with disabilities.
Please join us for one (or both) of these webinars and invite a friend (or a few!).
Click on the links below to register.
Tuesday, April 6 at 7:00 pm
Thursday, April 8 at 12:00 pm,
State special education funding for school districts is based on the Special Education Funding Formula that differentiates students into three cost tiers according to their level of educational need.
Special education funding for charter schools is based on a “one-size-fits-all” calculation that assumes 16% each school district’s students receive special education services.
Advocates have long argued that that the current system for funding charter special education creates incentives for charter schools to enroll students whose services cost less than the per student tuition they receive from districts and to deny access to students whose disability requires greater intervention and higher costs.
In September, Education Voters of PA issued a report, “Fixing the Flaws in Pennsylvania’s Special Education Funding System for Charter Schools: How an Outdated Law Wastes Public Money, Encourages Gaming of the System, and Limits School Choice.”
Our analysis of special education enrollment data in district and charter schools finds that charter schools enroll only half as many the students with high-cost special education needs as would be expected in non biased system. These findings are consistent with the likelihood that many charter schools are exploiting the state’s special education funding system by cherry picking students with low-cost special education needs and discriminating against students with high-cost needs.
Representatives Joe Ciresi and Wendi Thomas have introduced House Bill 272, legislation that would apply the special education funding formula to charter schools and strengthen Pennsylvania’s outdated charter school law in many other ways to protect both students and taxpayers.
We hope you will be able to join us for one (or both) of these events and be part of advocating for reforms to Pennsylvania’s charter school law.
Susan Spicka, Executive Director, Education Voters of PA