Law & Courts

Arizona Opinion: Give Federal Aid to Company-Run Charters

By Darcia Harris Bowman — September 21, 2004 2 min read

Arizona education officials hope a recent opinion issued by the state attorney general will convince the U.S. Department of Education that charter schools run by for-profit companies are entitled to keep millions of federal dollars. At issue is whether charter schools that are run by such companies meet the federal definition of a “local education agency.” The state attorney general’s review of Arizona law concludes that they do, but a federal investigator disagrees

Last year, a federal audit of 20 Arizona charter schools called on the state to repay at least $1.1 million in aid under the Title I compensatory education program and the Individuals with Disabilities Act. (“U.S. Audit Raps Arizona’s Use of Charter Aid,” Dec. 3, 2003.)

The audit by the Education Department’s inspector general found that since 2000, the state had improperly passed on the federal aid to more than 29 for-profit companies operating some 75 charter schools in Arizona

The inspector general concluded that private, for-profit companies that run charter schools don’t meet the federal government’s definition of a local education agency, and therefore aren’t eligible to receive the money at issue

Tom Horne, Arizona’s state superintendent of schools, challenged the Education Department’s findings, arguing that they ignored Arizona law, which calls for the equal treatment of nonprofit and for-profit charter schools. He argued that all charter schools in his state, regardless of who runs them, are public schools.

The state attorney general’s office agreed with the superintendent in its opinion late last month.

“Because all Arizona charter schools are public schools and are mandated to comply with all federal and state laws regarding the education of children with disabilities in the same manner as school districts, all charter schools, including those operated by for-profit organizations, function as [local education agencies] under Arizona law,” Attorney General Terry Goddard concluded.

Waiting for Response

As with regular public school districts, charter schools can’t refuse to admit children based on their disabilities, according to the Mr. Goddard. The state also requires charter schools, regardless of who operates them, to establish policies and procedures for educating all children with disabilities living within their jurisdictions.

As such, he said, charter schools are financed by the state in the same manner as regular public schools.

Mr. Horne hopes that no more appeals will be necessary. “I think the federal Department of Education will change that ruling now that they have full information,” he said in an interview last week.

Whether Mr. Goddard’s opinion will sway the federal department remains to be seen. His review was prompted by a request from federal education officials for an opinion on Mr. Horne’s position.

A spokesman with the Arizona Department of Education said Aug. 5 that the superintendent had not yet heard from federal officials one way or the other.

Lawyers with the federal department are reviewing the state attorney general’s opinion, said Jim Bradshaw, a spokesman for the U.S. agency.

Related Tags:

Events

School & District Management Live Event EdWeek Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

President and CEO
Alexandria, Virginia
National Association of State Boards of Education
Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Arizona School Data Analyst - (AZVA)
Arizona, United States
K12 Inc.

Read Next

Law & Courts Accused Texas School Shooter to Remain at State Hospital
Doctors say the student accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Texas high school in 2018 remains incompetent to stand trial.
1 min read
Santa Fe High School freshman, Jai Gillard writes messages on each of the 10 crosses representing victims in front the school in Santa Fe, Texas on May 21, 2018.
Santa Fe High School freshman, Jai Gillard writes messages on each of the 10 crosses representing victims in front the school in Santa Fe, Texas on May 21, 2018.
Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP
Law & Courts School District Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Scope of Transgender Student Rights
A Virginia district appeals a ruling in the case involving Gavin Grimm's effort to use a restroom consistent with his gender identity.
3 min read
Transgender student Gavin Grimm challenged a policy of the Gloucester County, Va., school board that barred him from using the men's restroom. The school board has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.
Transgender student Gavin Grimm challenged a policy of the Gloucester County, Va., school board that barred him from using the men's restroom. The school board has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.
Kristen Zeis/The Daily Press via AP
Law & Courts 3 Years Later, Parkland School Shooting Trial Still in Limbo
It's been more than 1,000 days since a gunman with an AR-15 rifle burst into a Florida high school, killed 17 people, and wounded 17 others.
4 min read
Magaly Newcomb, right, comforts her daughter Haley Newcomb, 14, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, at a memorial outside the school in Parkland, Fla on Feb. 18, 2018. It’s been more than 1,000 days since a gunman with an AR-15 rifle burst into the school, killing 17 people and wounding 17 others.
Magaly Newcomb, right, comforts her daughter Haley Newcomb, 14, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, at a memorial outside the school in Parkland, Fla on Feb. 18, 2018. It’s been more than 1,000 days since a gunman with an AR-15 rifle burst into the school, killing 17 people and wounding 17 others.
Gerald Herbert/AP
Law & Courts Judge: District Had No Duty to Flag Danger From Student in Parkland Shootings
A Florida judge said the Broward County school district cannot be held liable for failing to predict actions that were beyond its control.
2 min read
Law enforcement officers block off the entrance to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 15, 2018 in Parkland, Fla., following a deadly shooting at the school.
Law enforcement officers block off the entrance to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 15, 2018 in Parkland, Fla., following a deadly shooting at the school.
Wilfredo Lee/AP