Is Bridgeport’s Chair Baraka Ignorant of the Laws Governing Charter Schools?

Let’s set the record straight.

Charter schools do not funnel money away from local school districts. That is state law.

In fact, state law allows districts like Bridgeport to collect money for students who attend charters, meaning they are paid to educate students they do not educate. That is enshrined in statute.

Bridgeport BOE Chairwoman Sauda Baraka seems to think the opposite is true. Is it possible that she and the other BOE members are not maliciously neglectful? Is it possible that they’re just ignorant when they start yelling about how much money charter schools take away from school districts?

Let’s take a look at the law. You know, not an opinion, not a dream or a fantasy but the actual law, as it stands in Connecticut today.

First of all, read this: “A student enrolled … in a state charter school shall not be considered a student enrolled in the school district in which such student resides.”

However, “The state shall pay in accordance with this subsection, to the town in which a state charter school is located for each student enrolled in such school, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, $10,200, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, $11,000, and for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.”

Now, I’m not a lawyer, but it certainly seems to me that, under state law, a town like Bridgeport is paid by the state for charter school students they do not educate.

So, how do charter schools funnel money from the school district?

Oh, right! Transportation! Special Ed!

Actually, no. State and federal law mandates that school districts must pay for special education and transportation costs for every single student, regardless of whether a student attends a district or charter school (or a private school, a magnet school or a technical school for that matter).

But wait, don’t shed a tear yet. They get that money back. The state reimburses up to 60 percent of those transportation costs. That has been law since 2004.

Is it too much to ask for Baraka and her ilk to argue based on fact? Why am I even bothering to ask? We all know the answer already.



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