Civil rights lawyer Wendy Lecker writes here about the persistence of racial segregation in Connecticut.

She writes:

The racial imbalance law applies to all public schools. It was enacted prior to the existence of charter schools but it was amended after the Connecticut charter school law was written. A 1996 revision of the law specifically included charters as a method to reduce racial isolation.

 

Despite the intent and plain language of the racial imbalance law, charter schools, which are now among the most racially isolated schools in the state, are specifically excluded from SDE’s report. This is particularly troubling since Connecticut law defines charter schools as public schools subject to all federal and state laws to which public schools are subject. Charter schools can be granted a specific exemption from some laws but only if they request that in their application. If the legislature intended to exempt charters from the racial imbalance law, it could have amended the law and done so explicitly. But that is not the case.

Moreover, in approving charter schools, the commissioner of education has a statutory obligation to consider the effect of any proposed charter school on the reduction of racial, ethnic and economic isolation in the region in which it is to be located. A charter school is to be put on probation if it “fails to achieve measurable progress in reducing racial, ethnic and economic isolation.” Yet, as a Connecticut Voices for Children report noted in 2014, the majority of charters are “hyper-segregated:” having a student body that is more than 90 percent students of color. In addition, most charter schools tend to underserve bilingual students (e.g. ELL) and students with disabilities.

However the State Education Department has decided to exempt charter schools from the law that requires diversity.