Document Type


Publication Date

January 2010


Hurricane Katrina created the need and the opportunity to reconstitute the New Orleans public school system. Educational reformers took advantage of the destruction of existing institutions to build a new system based on educational choice and dependent on charter schools to provide the choices. The disaster also created the need and opportunity to rebuild the system of special education in the city, but education for children with disabilities appears to have been an afterthought. Reports have surfaced of children being steered away from charter schools or inadequately served there. This paper asks what principles should guide reformers in establishing education for children with disabilities in a reconstructed school system committed to choice and charters. The principles include the following: (1) Guaranteeing that the general education system takes responsibility for all children; (2) Adequately supporting children with disabilities in general education; (3) Improving outcomes; (4) Providing equal opportunity for choice; (5) Assigning costs fairly; and (6) Protecting parents' and children's rights. This paper will discuss each principle in turn, considering its implications for policy and its legal ramifications.