Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling

Committee Chair(s)

Keith Christensen


Keith Christensen


Timothy Slocum


Matthew Wappett


Jeff Sheen


Susan Wagner


There is a perception that charter schools enroll a disproportionately lower number of students with disabilities than traditional public school districts (TPS). Coupled with this perception are antidotal stories of students with disabilities being turned away by charter schools during the enrollment process. This study sought to determine what research has been completed to compare enrollment of students with disabilities in charter schools to enrollment in TPS, complete data comparisons on an entire state education system to see what enrollment differences exist for students with disabilities in charter schools and TPS, and review federal reports regarding students with disabilities to determine if differences exist for implementation of special education law between charter schools and TPS. This research has societal benefits as it assists in determining if charter schools are equivalently learning environments for students with disabilities as far as access and outcomes. This study also provides a framework that can be replicated for any state-level education system for determining equivalency in access for students with disabilities in charter schools. The results of this study can be used to help state departments of education determine targeted training for charter schools or TPS on special education topics to increase equity across school settings. It can also be used at the state-level to help hone charter school legislation and regulations to ensure charter schools don’t develop into separate education settings that demographically differ from TPS.