A fresh examination of special education enrollment patterns in New York State suggests that charter schools may be doing better at enrolling students with special needs than many believe.

These findings are relevant for Washington state as policy makers consider how to best implement Initiative 1240 to allow charter schools, which appears to have been approved by voters in the most recent election.

The issue of charter schools and special-needs students arises in part from a federal report that said, at the national level, charter schools enroll fewer students than schools run by districts.

That may be true when comparing national averages of charter compared with non-charter schools, but new research comparing New York State's district-run schools with charter schools finds important variations in the enrollment patterns of students with special needs.