by Harold Hinds
Evergreen Charter School in Hempstead, NY recently received some tremendous news for its students. The State Education Department (SED) ruled in favor of the charter in a complaint filed against the district for withholding special education services from children. Complaints like this don’t always make the news, but we hope the broader charter school community will take note of victories such as this one.
We’re also telling this story because too often charter schools are accused of under-serving students with disabilities--which couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, many are fighting for those students to receive the services they are entitled to under law.
Some districts do right by charter school children every time. Unfortunately, other districts find ways to harass families, deny services, and generally make life difficult for both charter schools and their students. There is no denying that charter schools in many communities often face serious obstacles when dealing with their districts. From refusing to pass along per-pupil dollars to refusing to evaluate students for IEPs, charter schools sometimes need to push back hard to put an end to the nonsense.
Back in April, the Northeast Charter Schools Network (NECSN) filed a complaint with SED on behalf of Evergreen against the Hempstead Unified School District. The complaint challenged the district’s failure to provide several Evergreen students with the special education services the District was obligated to provide.
The District’s behavior directly hurt the students who are often the most vulnerable.
For more than eight months, Evergreen attempted to get student records, but the district refused to provide them for more than a dozen students – including the records for several students who have learning disabilities. The district also delayed providing mandatory Individualized Education Program, or IEP, services for multiple students.
SED investigated the allegations and recently ruled in favor of NECSN and Evergreen on all counts. In the ruling SED chronicled the Hempstead District’s consistent failure to meet its obligations and explained how the district’s actions caused harm.
This decision was a huge win for Evergreen and its students.
We are proud to have helped secure this victory for Evergreen. This is just one of the ways we can help schools who’re hitting roadblocks. We’re here to tell your story and fight for you when you need it. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s an issue we can help you with!