ACLU blasts charter schools for violating enrollment law

Report called an ‘anti-charter witch hunt’

By Maria Polletta |The Republic

Expectations for Arizona’s publicly funded charter schools are clear: Accept state money, follow state rules.

With few exceptions, that means welcoming “all eligible pupils who submit a timely application” regardless of income, ability or national origin.

Yet when the ACLU of Arizona examined 471 charter schools’ enrollment materials this year, it found “clearly illegal or exclusionary” policies and procedures at more than half of them. Seventy-two schools didn’t provide documents for review.

“Based on limited excerpts we have seen, it is clear the report makes broad-brush accusations that are misleading or unsupported by the evidence,” said Eileen Sigmund, president and CEO of Arizona Charter Schools Association

In a report released Thursday, the non-profit identified barriers that could discourage the enrollment of students with disabilities, weak grades, low test scores, behavioral problems, little money or parents without legal status. In some cases, schools capped the number of students with disabilities they would serve, a violation of federal law.

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