An investigation by the New York State Education Department faulted Success Academy Charter Chain and the New York City Department of Education for violating the civil rights of students with disabilities. 

Success Academy charter schools and the New York City education department have violated the civil rights of students with special needs, an investigation by state officials found.

The charter network failed to provide required services to students, changed the special education placement of children without giving parents the opportunity for input, and refused to follow orders issued at special education administrative hearings, according to the state.

Investigators also fault the city education department for failing to provide parents with legally required notices regarding changes to their child’s Special Education Program, or IEP, and for not ensuring that the charter network complied with hearing orders.

Both the city and Success Academy will be required to implement a list of reforms that will be monitored by the state, according to a decision reached earlier this month by New York’s Office of Special Education.

Success Academy spokeswoman Ann Powell pushed back against the report, saying the network doesn’t agree with all the conclusions and has been in “active discussions” with state leaders about their concerns. Powell attributed most of the findings to a need for better documentation, “not about any failure in providing services to children.”

The state investigation was prompted by a complaint filed in November by the advocacy group Advocates for Children and a private law firm.

“This decision makes clear that students do not give up their civil rights when they enter a charter school, and parents do not give up their voice in their children’s education,” Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children, said in an emailed statement.

The findings heap fresh scrutiny on the city’s largest charter network, which has previously been accused of denying services to students with disabilities — and on the city education department, which came under fire this week for shortcomings in how children with special needs are supported.

At the four schools covered in the investigation, the state’s Office of Special Education found that Success Academy did not provide required special education classes, small group instruction, or testing accommodations. The network also failed to follow the proper procedure for changing the services provided to children with disabilities by not holding required meetings with families, among other issues, and did not follow “pendency orders,” which require schools to maintain accommodations in cases where parents have appealed changes to their children’s education plans.