The number of special education students varies wildly among charter schools in New Orleans leading to questions about discrimination.

A state report released last week found that at some New Orleans charters fewer than 4 percent of students have disabilities versus more than 15 percent at other charter schools. If students with special needs were distributed equally among schools in the city, about 10 percent of students enrolled at each school would have disabilities.

Anecdotally advocates say they have heard reports that parents of children with special needs are being discouraged from applying to certain charter schools. In other cases special education students have been “counseled out” of schools after enrolling.

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New Orleans charter schools are not allowed to turn away a student because they have special needs.

Some say the discrepancies in enrollment figures may be due to natural variances rather than any type of intentional efforts. For example, some charters have names emphasizing college preparation or math instruction, which could dissuade parents whose children have disabilities.

Other charters could be attractive to students with special needs because of class structure or size, reports The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. To read more click here.