Date of Award

Fall October 2013

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Shane P. Martin

Second Advisor

Emilio Pack

Third Advisor

Andrew Furedi


Few studies have examined the intersection of charter school and special education policies. The concerns around the serving of special education students in charter schools must be carefully studied, especially as charter schools continue to grow in numbers and continue to serve a greater percentage of public school students. New policies must not only address equity in access for special education students in charter schools but must also study how charter schools can be leveraged to generate innovative and promising practices in the area of special education.

This study examines a recent policy change in the Los Angeles Unified School District that provides great autonomy and increased accountability for charter schools in their provision of special education services. This policy change promotes key tenets of charter schools: (a) autonomy and decentralization, (b) choice and competition, and (c) performance-based accountability with the aim of increasing access for students with special needs and increasing the capacity of charter schools to serve them. The research design utilizes a mixed method approach to collect qualitative and quantitative data to evaluate the goals of this major policy change within this particular school district.