A Pennsylvania charter school shut down due to financial problems. Parents of two students sought a due process hearing, alleging a denial of FAPE. They named as defendants both the defunct charters, and the state agency. The hearing officer ruled in favor of the parents. Here, the parents sought attorneys’ fees from the state agency. The agency filed a Motion to Dismiss, arguing that it did not deny the student’s FAPE, and was not a “guarantor” of charter school solvency. The court refused to dismiss the case, and made this observation:
As the Charlene R. Court [an earlier case with similar facts] noted, Pennsylvania has encouraged the growth of charter schools, which are considered to be public schools and LEAs under the IDEA. These charter schools, unlike public school districts, “can simply disappear,” leaving students with no recourse other than suing the PDE and the Commonwealth to vindicate their rights.
Texas, likewise, has encouraged the growth of charter schools, treats them as public schools, and has seen a few go bust in the middle of the school year. Perhaps this could happen here as well.
The case is R.J. v. Rivera, decided by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on August 16, 2016. We found it at 68 IDELR 101.
DAWG BONE: IT IS THE STATE THAT HAS THE ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY TO ENSURE THE PROVISION OF FAPE.
File this one under: SPECIAL EDUCATION
Tomorrow: Toolbox Tuesday!!