CST Publication – Special Education in the Turnaround Context: Green Dot Public Schools in Los Angeles

Special Education in the Turnaround Context:

Green Dot Public Schools in Los Angeles

By Colleen Eskow, Consultant, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools &
Lauren Morando Rhim, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools

Responding to concerns about the poor academic results in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), in 1999 Steve Barr founded Green Dot Public Schools. The charter management organization (CMO) started small, initially opening a single autonomous charter high school. Then, between 2000 and 2008, Green Dot opened an additional nine schools, many of them serving some of the city’s most challenged neighborhoods (Green Dot Public Schools, n.d.a).

This exploratory Green Dot mini-case illustrates strategies that one charter management organization (CMO) implemented, in the course of its broader school turnaround efforts at individual schools, to improve special education and related services for students with disabilities. Green Dot and its school-specific efforts highlighted in this brief were chosen based on the following criteria:

  • The organization had embarked on an explicit turnaround effort and was able to show evidence of positive  growth for all students.
  • The school in question enrolled a significant population (i.e., 15 percent or more) of students with disabilities.
  • The organization’s staff implemented an intentional plan to examine and improve special education and related services for students with disabilities.