Remember, this is all by design of our right-wing, pro-corporate governor’s administration, not an unintended consequence:
(HARRISBURG, Mar. 9, 2012) – A toxic mixture of state special education and charter school laws and more than $23 million in funding cuts are violating the civil rights of Chester Upland School District’s 700 special needs students, according to a federal complaint Pennsylvania’s largest school employee union and two other public interest groups have filed with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Mike Crossey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, explained that PSEA, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed a civil rights complaint with the federal Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights in order to protect the interests of Chester Upland’s special needs students.
“The crisis in Chester Upland is so severe that it could become a full-blown tragedy for students with special needs,” Crossey said. “The civil rights of these students are at stake and we need to stand up for them.”
Crossey explained that state laws forcing Chester Upland to make artificially inflated payments to charter schools are draining the district’s resources.
Chester Upland is forced to pay $24,528 for each special education student who attends local charter schools, an amount nearly twice the $13,458 per student special education subsidy the district receives for its own students. Enrollment numbers in at least one local charter school indicate that the charter school is identifying an unusually high number of students with mild disabilities and experiencing a payment windfall.
“These laws are fundamentally unfair, they favor charter schools over traditional public schools, and they are draining Chester Upland’s resources,” Crossey said. “This bizarre payment scheme is among the root causes of the district’s financial distress.”
The school district is on the brink of closing its doors because of these crushing payments to charter schools and unprecedented state funding cuts, which have hit poorer school districts even harder than their wealthier neighbors.