Recommendations for Charter School Operators

  • Academic Performance. When schools ask for academic records, they need to be clear that it is for post-enrollment placement, not to make an enrollment determination. Better yet, schools should only request academic records after enrollment is complete. Schools should eliminate academic “probationary periods” before enrollment is finalized. Schools should be prepared to accommodate students of all academic abilities. Schools should eliminate all questions about academic performance from enrollment documentation. Schools should eliminate pre-enrollment testing.
     
  • Special Education. Schools must make clear that there is not a cap on the number of students with disabilities who can enroll. Enrollment documents should make clear that the school will provide special education services as required by state and federal law. Every school that receives state and/or federal funding must provide special education services. Schools cannot condition enrollment upon the receipt of special education materials/paperwork. Enrollment paperwork should be accessible to students and/or parents with disabilities.
     
  • Student Disciplinary History. Enrollment documents should not ask for information about prior suspensions, arrest records, or disciplinary history other than expulsion. Schools must eliminate interview requirements, including those related to ascertaining behavioral history.
     
  • Language Questions. Schools should provide enrollment documents in English and Spanish and other languages as appropriate to the surrounding population. All charter schools should adopt the PHLOTE form. Schools should make clear that they have ELL programs.
     
  • Age and Identity Verification. In order to comply with A.R.S. § 15-828, charter schools should accept any documentation, recognized under Arizona law, that verifies the student’s identity and age, not only a birth certificate. Enrollment forms should not ask for Social Security numbers of students or parents. Enrollment forms should not ask for citizenship information about students or parents. Schools should only ask for the place of birth of foreign exchange students. When asking if a student is the child of migrant workers or is a refugee, the school should make clear responses will only be used to provide services and will not influence enrollment.
     
  • Pre-Enrollment Tasks. Schools should not ask for pre-enrollment interviews or essays, even on a voluntary basis. Schools should make clear that tours, orientations, and registration events are optional and not a condition that must be met prior to enrollment.
     
  • Donations and Volunteering. At the very least, schools should make clear that donations are optional and will not influence enrollment. Ideally, charter schools should not solicit donations from parents or students. Charter schools should make clear that volunteerism is not a condition of enrollment or continued enrollment.
     
  • Fees. Schools should make it explicit that enrollment is not conditioned upon the payment of any fees, including book deposits, lab fees, or activity fees. Schools should make clear that complete waivers are available for fees related to the student’s educational experience.
     
  • Other Recommendations. Schools should eliminate tactics for encouraging voluntary withdrawal based on academic performance, disability, behavioral issues, or personal characteristics such as sexual orientation, language proficiency, country of origin, gender identity, religion, or race. Schools should eliminate pre-enrollment interviews with students and probationary periods. Schools should eliminate attendance requirements that are stricter than required by law. Schools should apply for federal funding for meal programs so that a lack of food during the school day is not a barrier to enrollment for low-income families.
     
  • Transparency. Schools should make their enrollment documents and policies easily available on their websites and handbooks and should promptly comply with public records requests about their enrollment materials (and all other public records) so that the public can ensure all Arizona charter schools are complying with the law. In addition, schools should post a message on their websites indicating all students are welcome to enroll, including English learners, non-U.S. citizens, students with disabilities, low-income students, and students who are struggling academically or require additional academic support. This message should make clear that students are only turned away if more students want to attend than there are seats available and that in these instances the school uses a random lottery process to select students.
     
  • Provide Notice of Changes. Schools that had illegal or exclusionary enrollment requirements should:
  1. Make clear on all materials that the requirements have been rescinded.
  2. Send a letter to families notifying them that the requirements are no longer in effect.
  3. Post notices on school grounds informing families that no student will be removed or excluded for the specified admission or enrollment requirements.
  4. Notify administrators and teachers that previous admission or enrollment requirements are no longer grounds for student exclusion or removal.
  • Add Accountability Systems. Conduct an annual internal compliance review to ensure that all enrollment policies and practices comply with state and federal laws. Ensure that parents and students are aware there is an easy way to file a complaint about unlawful/exclusionary enrollment policies or practices and that these complaints are investigated and resolved.

Next: Recommendations for Charter School Authorizers →

← Back to Table of Contents 

Stay informed

ACLU of Arizona is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National