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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

Year Degree Awarded

2017

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

Michael Krezmien

Subject Categories

Special Education and Teaching

Abstract

Over the last ten years, charter schools have become a viable choice for parent’s seeking an alternative to traditional public schools. However, research shows this is not the case for students with disabilities. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine special education in charter schools and traditional public schools located in Massachusetts. I examined three key areas specific to special education; enrollment, placement and compliance, to determine if differences exist between charter schools and traditional public schools located in the state. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine differences between Massachusetts charter schools and public schools with respect to enrollment for each disability category. Multiple regression was used to examine differences in placement for special education students. Lastly, descriptive statistics were used to analyze the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Coordinated Program Review (CPR) reports to determine if charter schools are compliant with state and federal regulations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Findings revealed charter schools disproportionately under-enrolled students with disabilities, specifically severe disabilities, and placed students in full inclusion placements more frequently than public schools throughout the state. Charter schools also struggled to comply with state and federal regulations under the IDEA, specifically in areas related to direct services and supports to students with disabilities.

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