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Disability-Focused Charter Schools Renew Inclusion Debate

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Arianna Prothero
Education Week
September 16th, 2014

Parents go to great lengths to meet the special and often demanding needs of children with disabilities. In Diana Diaz-Harrison’s case, that meant opening a charter school in Phoenix for her son, who has autism—and for other students like him—when she felt his needs weren’t being met in regular district-run schools.

There are few data on exactly how many of these special education-focused charter schools exist. A tally by the Center for Education Reform, a Washington-based research and advocacy group, counted around 100 such charters in the 2012 school year. Some of those independently operated public schools, like the Arizona Autism Charter School, are disability-specific; others, like the Washington-based Bridges Public Charter School, serve children with a range of disabilities as well as their typically developing peers.

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