ACLU demands changes at charter schools over alleged enrollment practices

- The ACLU wants to make some changes in Arizona's charter school system, over what it claims to be "discriminatory enrollment practices".

It's been a bumpy road for charter schools in Arizona, with events ranging from closures to controversy. Now, there is a new concern. The document was supposed to rattle the cages of charter schools statewide back in December, but it didn't happen, and the ACLU isn't happy about it.

"Even though they are privately operated, they use taxpayer funds, so the charter schools have to comply with state laws and federal laws," said Alessandra Soler, Executive Director of ACLU Arizona. "In December, we issued a report that found a very large number of charter schools -- 56% of charter schools here in Arizona -- were engaging in what we called exclusionary enrollment practices."

That report described concerns such as not allowing students to enroll if they had a previous behavioral problem, and it exposed that some schools are requiring so called donations, and mandating volunteer work for parents, just so their student can attend class.

"It allows these charter schools to cherry pick they types of students are enrolled in their schools, and in many cases, we feel like it violates state and federal law," said Soler.

The state board fired back on Monday, noting the ACLU's research took nearly a year, and that 85 days is not enough to respond.

The highly publicized closure of Discovery Creemos Academy put the spotlight on how charter schools are run, and the flap over a student with braids at Teleos Academy added concern on discrimination in charter schools. The ACLU is asking for the school to confirm the changes by the end of the month. Meanwhile, the next charter board meeting is scheduled for April 9.

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