State lawmakers widely acknowledge that Pennsylvania’s charter school law is flawed, outdated, and must be revised. Nevertheless, year after year, Harrisburg has failed to fix its own broken charter school law. Lawmakers have failed to protect taxpayers, they have failed to ensure charters offer equal access to all students, and they have failed to enact reforms that will help improve education quality for all children.
In an effort to break the gridlock, Education Voters of PA has joined the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center to build a campaign calling on state lawmakers to fix the egregious flaw in the charter school law that allows charter schools to reap more than $100 million in profits annually off of special education overpayments from school districts.
Under current charter school law, special education funding for charters schools is not based on the actual cost of providing services to students with disabilities. Instead, charters often collect $10,000 or more over what they actually spend providing services for students. Charters can then legally reallocate surplus special education funding to pay for other things. Last year, charter schools used over $100 million of the special education funding they received for things other than assisting students with disabilities.
Current law also creates a financial disincentive for charters to enroll students with disabilities that require more significant intervention.
PA Charter schools as a whole enroll a disproportionately small number of students with significant disabilities, raising a serious question of whether or not these public schools are providing equal access to all students.
This is outrageous and cannot continue.
We don’t expect lawmakers to take action on this issue during the limited days they will be in Harrisburg before the end of the year. Right now are building a broad coalition of individuals and organizations that will stand together when lawmakers convene in the new year to demand that they take action to end the $100 million in special education overpayments to charter schools.