Statehouse
6:00 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Legislation Would Make Charter Schools Follow State Law On Special Ed, ELL

The Illinois General Assembly has approved legislation intended to make charter schools follow state laws for special education. But some lawmakers see this as the latest attack on charter schools.

  Charter schools already have to follow federal laws on special education and for students who are just learning English. But according to the Illinois State Board of Education, a "handful" say they were exempt from stricter state requirements.

Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Democrat from Maywood, says her legislation is intended to clarify that charter schools are required to comply with Illinois laws in that area.

"I think it's discriminatory if they're not providing those particular services for the kids," Lightford says.

But others — like Republican Sen. Dave Luechtefeld of Okawville — say this kind of thing is killing the very qualities that makes charter schools different.

"If we continue to do what this bill does, then there will be very little difference between charter schools and the public school system," Luechtefeld says.

People in that camp say it's important to free charter schools from as much government regulation as possible.