Most of New York City’s charter schools have disciplinary codes that do not meet either state or federal requirements, according to a report by a children’s advocacy organization that is to be released on Thursday.
In preparing the report, the group surveyed the disciplinary policies of 155 charter organizations — large networks as well as smaller, independent schools — out of 183 such organizations that operated in New York City during the 2013-14 school year. (The 155 organizations had 164 disciplinary policies between them because some set different standards for different grade levels, Advocates for Children said.)Some charter schools have drawn criticism for having high suspension rates and a strict approach to discipline that pushes children out of the classroom unnecessarily. But many charter advocates have said it is crucial to maintain order so children can learn.The Advocates for Children report cites complaints from parents who said their children had been suspended from charter schools over minor offenses such as wearing the wrong shoes or laughing while serving detention. Ultimately, though, the group said the main issue was legal.Half of the policies examined by Advocates for Children let charter schools suspend or expel students for being late or cutting class — punishments the group said violated state law. At three dozen schools, there were no special rules covering the suspension or expulsion of children with disabilities, which the group said violated federal law. And in 25 instances, charter schools could suspend students for long periods without a hearing, which the group said violated the United States and New York State Constitutions, as well as state law.
Of course the pushback from the charter operators and supporters is that charter schools are not public schools so they don't have to abide by the same state and federal laws that public schools do.
You see, charter schools are only public schools when it comes time to take public money, get co-located in a public school building or have their rent paid by NYC for private space if no co-location space is available.
For everything else - from the disciplinary codes to the ability of city or state agencies to audit them to the teacher evaluation law - they're private entities that do not have to abide by the same rules and regulations public schools do.
It's fabulous being a charter school operator in Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's New York State.
You get the best of both worlds - all the benefits without any of the responsibilities, obligations, rules or regulations.
And so, it's perfectly all right for a charter school to make students wear orange shirts (so similar to the orange jumpsuits prisoners are forced to wear) when they're being punished for some minor infraction whereas if a public school ever tried that same thing, it would (rightfully) be stopped in its tracks.