Sneak Preview: ED To Assess Charter School Enrollment Policies

March 29, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

(The following was excerpted from an article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) The Department of Education is reviewing its Charter Schools Program (CSP) guidance to determine how it can clarify enrollment requirements for schools on military bases that apply for, or have received, CSP grants, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.

Because many military families send their children to public schools, a 2008 Department of Defense study recommended offering military families a public charter school option in areas with poorly-performing local schools. GAO reviewed eight charter schools that are located on U.S. military bases to determine their characteristics and challenges.

Enrollment of military-connected students at these charter schools ranged from 42 percent to 90 percent, and three schools used preferences to ensure a higher proportion of students from military-connected families. For example, GAO found that one charter school established to educate military-connected children gave first preference to children of active-duty personnel, which comprised most of the enrolled students. However, most states require schools to be open to all students, which can hamper efforts to enroll solely military-connected students at these schools.

GAO did find that some states have amended their charter school laws to enable such schools to establish enrollment preference to military-connected students. However, using such enrollment preferences could have implications for whether or not a charter school is eligible for CSP grant funding. ED requires CSP grantees to provide all students an equal opportunity to attend the school and admit students by lottery if there are more applicants than spaces available.

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