June 8, 2018 / Modified jun 8, 2018 3:55 p.m.

Arizona Charter Schools Change Policies After ACLU Report

The report found that state-funded charter schools conducted enrollment in ways that could be seen as unlawful.

kids school door education Kids at school. (PHOTO: AZPM Staff)

PHOENIX — Documentation and policy changes have occurred at nearly 100 Arizona charter schools following a civil rights group's report last year that accused schools of having discriminatory enrollment policies, education officials said.

The report released in December by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona found that numerous state-funded charter schools conducted enrollment in ways that could be seen as unlawful, The Arizona Republic reported.

The ACLU investigation found that many schools had admission requirements that deterred certain students, including those with disabilities, English-learning needs, poor academic performance and past disciplinary issues. The ACLU reviewed the enrollment materials at 471 charter schools in the state, finding problems in more than half of them.

"The Board took the ACLU's analysis seriously," Arizona Board for Charter Schools Executive Director Ashley Berg said. "As of today, 97 percent of the schools the ACLU claimed were not in compliance with the law have been [deemed] compliant by the Board."

The state board has also revised its review and advisory processes to prevent enrollment violations.

The ACLU investigation found that many schools had admission requirements that deterred certain students, including those with disabilities, English-learning needs, poor academic performance and past disciplinary issues.

The remaining schools identified in the report are working with board staff to examine if their policies are compliant, Berg said.

"The sense we got was that many charter operators appreciated the opportunity to review and, if necessary, to update their enrollment policies and documents," Berg said.

The board in April contacted the schools cited by the ACLU as having violations and gave them 30 days to correct the problems. It also reviewed enrollment materials of the charter schools that did not provide information for the ACLU report.

The changes required by the board included prohibiting special education caps, eliminating inappropriate fees, removing volunteer requirements for parents and altering policies that prevented students with past suspensions from enrolling.

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