Charter schools are a type of public school that offer non-traditional education programs. They serve children of different ages, backgrounds, and interests. Each school’s charter agreement with the state describes their mission and how they plan to educate children.
There are some charter schools in Texas for preschool-aged children. Search for a charter school in your area.
Many charter schools use a lottery system for accepting children into their program.
Although they do not have to follow all state education laws, charter schools must follow federal laws for public education and special education. The charter school’s Special Education Operating Guidelines should outline the process for any child suspected of having a disability.
For example, they must have a contact person who helps locate, identify, and evaluate children who have disabilities. If your child is enrolled in a public charter school, he can be referred and evaluated for special education services following the same steps and processes as in any public school.
Charter schools must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children with disabilities, in a setting that allows them to be educated as much as possible with peers who do not have disabilities. This setting is called the least restrictive environment (LRE).
If you are investigating a charter school for your child, it will help to know the answers to these questions:
- What is the application process?
- How are children selected? Is there a lottery system? First come/first served?
- When do you accept applications? Only at the beginning of the school year? At the beginning or end of a semester? Throughout the year when there are vacancies?
- What experience do you have with preschool children?
- If you are not serving 3- and 4-year-olds this year, do you plan to in the future?
- What is your preschool curriculum?
- Do you accept children with disabilities in your Pre-K classes?
- What special education instructional services do you provide?
- How large is your special education staff? Do you have a special education coordinator or director?
- What speech therapy and other related services do you provide, such as occupational or physical therapy, and counseling?
- Do you employ or contract for support services, such as speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, evaluations, counseling?
- What would my child’s services look like? Would my child be in the classroom with other children when he gets special ed. services, or in another room either alone or in a small group?
- What services do you offer for early intervention, for example, language groups for the youngest children who may be at risk for speech/language delays?