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Division of Special Education

  • Charter Operated Programs

    Charter Operated Programs

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    The Board of Education for the Los Angeles Unified School District is committed to providing a wide range of schools and programs to meet the diverse educational needs and priorities of all students and families it has the privilege to serve. Charter schools are valuable partners and viable choices among the District’s robust set of educational options. Accordingly, the Board of Education views charter schools as a complementary method of achieving its vision and mission. LAUSD currently has a total of 222 independent charter schools. 

    The Division of Special Education is committed to serving all students with disabilities including students in charter schools. The Division works closely with the District to ensure that all families have equal access to an education in a charter school and works to ensure charters are serving a variety of students with special needs. The Division of Special Educaiton works to and supports the development of quality programs and services for students with special needs at independent charter schools. 

  • Charter Operated Programs  


    Please review the fact sheet on the Charter Operated Programs within the Division of Special Education. 

     PDF icon  Fact Sheet


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LAUSD Division of Special Education is committed to the enrollment and success of students with disabilities at charter schools. Our goal is to collaborate with charter schools to ensure that they provide students with disabilities a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). The mission of the Charter Operated Programs (COP) team is to empower a community of charter schools to work together to build innovative, high-quality educational programs and services for students with unique needs.

To solidify this mission, a Memorandum of Understanding defines the relationship between the charter and Division of Special Education. District authorized charter schools have the option to apply for membership in Option 1, Option 2 or Option 3. Please see this PDF icon  breakdown of supports for each Option and review the high-level information below:

Option 1: The charter school remains a true “school of the District” with all responsibilities and privileges extended to any other school of the District. The charter school is responsible for ensuring its special education programs and services are in compliance with federal and state education laws and regulations. However, the District will provide special education personnel, operate special education programs, implement the programs and services including providing related services which are required by the IEPs of the students enrolled at the Charter school and handle due process matters.

Option 2: The charter school remains a “school of the District”, while retaining autonomy and responsibility for service delivery. The charter school is responsible for ensuring its special education programs and services are in compliance with federal and state education laws and regulations. The District will continue to provide special education and related supports to the charter in order to assist the school in developing the capacity to meet the needs of students requiring an increased level of supports and services.

Option 3: The charter school operates independently for the purposes of special education. The charter school will not have complete LEA status but will function in a similar manner. The charter will assume sole management and fiscal responsibility for all of its students’ special education instruction, program and services, related services, placement, due process, and supports. As full autonomy comes with increased responsibility, there is an application process for membership into Option 3. While Option 3 charter schools do operate mostly independently, they continue to be housed within the LAUSD SELPA and have access to District-wide special education supports.

Charter schools authorized by the Los Angeles Unified School District are an enrollment option for all students, including students with disabilities. The California Charter Schools Act of 1992, Education Code Section 47605(d)(1) states that a charter school ”… shall not discriminate against any pupil on the basis of characteristics listed in Section 220” of the California Education Code which includes discrimination on the basis of disability. Within its capacity, a charter school is required to admit all students who wish to attend the school. 

Charter schools must serve the needs of students with disabilities as required by the student’s individualized education program (IEP) in the same manner as District-operated schools. This includes providing programs such as special day and resource specialist programs as well as all related services described in the law including, but not limited to, speech and language, counseling, occupational therapy, behavioral support, physical therapy, adapted physical education, and transportation. 

Charter schools should include information on special education programs and services offered at their school in their outreach and recruitment materials. Parents should also expect that annual meetings will take place to inform parents that the charter school is open to enroll and provides services for ALL students. Be aware that parents must complete and submit an application for an independent charter school in order to begin the enrollment process. The charter school will also ensure that no student, otherwise eligible to enroll in their charter school, will be denied enrollment on the basis of their special education status.

Charter schools are required to provide intensive training or professional development to their staff about serving students with disabilities. All District trainings are available to charter school staff. Any District training/meeting for parents is always open to parents of students enrolled in LAUSD charter schools. The Division of Special Education, Charter Operated Programs team provides support to charter schools to help them develop high-quality special education programs that serve students with mild to severe disabilities. Charters must offer a continuum of services and a full array of related services to meet the needs of any students attending the charter school.

Information about current and scheduled charter schools is available and regularly updated on the Charter Schools Division website.

If you have a particular issue related to the implementation of special education services at your child’s Charter School, please contact Email icon CharterOperatedPrograms@lausd.net.

The Charter Operated Programs (COP) team strives to provide quality support and technical assistance to all independent charter schools authorized by LAUSD. As a team within the Division of Special Education, they have on-going collaboration with the other Division and LAUSD teams to ensure charters receive the necessary assistance to support all students with disabilities.

If you are a charter school, please contact your COP team point person or email CharterOperatedPrograms@lausd.net.

  •  Los Angeles Unified School District ♦ Division of Special Education 

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