Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Charter School Rejects Special Ed. Students

PEJAM was part of the effort in Minneapolis to save North High, but we were also part of the unsuccessful effort to save Cityview Elementary from being closed and turned into a charter.  Cityview did not have the same deep roots as North High and the parents, students, and teachers who did step forward were easily ignored.  Now look at what has happened to some of our most vulnerable students.

The online paper, Twin Cities Daily Planet, reports the charter school, Minnesota School of Science (MSS), that took over the Cityview site and was authorized by the Minneapolis School Board has now said it will not serve children with disabilities such as Down’s syndrome and autism.  The intense needs of special education students contributed to the “poor performance” of Cityview, which enable the Minneapolis School Board to justify its closing of this school. 

Now the unelected board of the MSS Charter School has voted to walk away from some of our neediest students because they get in the way of the charter school's goals on standardized tests.

Minneapolis School Board member, Carla Bates, acknowledges mistakes, but falls short of admitting that her, and the Board's, support of charter schools is part of the problem.  If it is simply a failure of the MSS charter school, the Minneapolis School Board can talk to Eric Mahmoud of Harvest Prep Academy (another charter).  The school district recently authorized him to open a District sponsored charter school next year and possibly five more, in total.  Rather than scattering the Special Education students across north and northeast Minneapolis, lets put them in Harvest Prep Academy, and have them participate in mainstream classes there.  Our School Board seems to believe that if anyone can succeed with our neediest students it is Mr. Mahmoud and his Harvest Prep Academy.

Of course, in reality, the Minneapolis School Board should immediately cancel its lease with the MSS Charter School and its authorization.  

This is just the latest evidence that charter schools do not serve all students.  We need to have true public schools that meet the needs of ALL of our students, and our elected school board members need to accept that responsibility.  Charter schools are not part of a universal, democratic, and socially just system of public education.

Rob Panning-Miller


The Perimeter Primate said...

Something else to be aware of is that the Minnesota School of Science is in the network of charter schools operated by the Gulen movement -- as are ALL schools operated by Concept Schools.

More re special ed issues at these schools @

Anonymous said...

I totally get the outrage this business invokes but the situation described above misstates the problem.

As described in the Daily Planet article, MSS backed away from an agreement it had with MPS to co-locate some classrooms in which Cityview students with profound special needs could participate. These students appear not to have been enrolled at MSS, but were MPS students. The school didn't say it won't serve disabled students--an obvious violation of IDEA--but that they won't continue the (rather questionable) arrangement established by, apparently, a separate agreement.

I just worry that the movement for justice is damaged when we have obvious errors in facts.

Anonymous said...

ACLU of Minnesota
Executive Director: Charles Samuelson
2300 Myrtle Ave, Suite 180
St. Paul, MN 55114
Phone: (651) 645-4097 Fax: (651) 647-5948 | Email:


Yes! All kids living in the United States have the right to a free public education. And the Constitution requires that all kids be given equal educational opportunity no matter what their race, ethnic background, religion, or sex, or whether they are rich or poor, citizen or non-citizen. Even if you are in this country illegally, you have the right to go to public school. The ACLU is fighting hard to make sure this right isn't taken away.

In addition to this constitutional guarantee of an equal education, many federal, state and local laws also protect students against discrimination in education based on sexual orientation or disability, including pregnancy and HIV status.

In fact, even though some kids may complain about having to go to school, the right to an equal educational opportunity is one of the most valuable rights you have. The Supreme Court said this in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case when it struck down race segregation in the public schools.

If you believe you or someone you know is being discriminated against in school, speak up! Talk to a teacher, the principal, the head of a community organization or a lawyer so they can investigate the situation and help you take legal action if necessary.

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