Will Charter Face Class Action Lawsuit?

Will a prominent corporate charter school chain face a class action lawsuit for their alleged refusal to serve special education students?

I first blogged about BASIS in the post What BASIS?: Nepotism and aggrandizement in charters? At the time, I included Charter School Scandals uncovered special report about BASIS.

The first BASIS charter school was founded in Tucson in 1998 by Michael Block and Olga Block. BASIS is a rapidly grown charter school. Since my first BASIS blog post, they have doubled in size. In 2015, BASIS opened its 18th Arizona school in Goodyear, AZ.

Their Arizona campuses are located in:

BASIS Ahwatukee | Grades 4-12 2013
BASIS Goodyear | Grades K-8 2015
BASIS Chandler | Grades 5-12 2011
BASIS Chandler Primary North Campus | Grades K-4 2016
BASIS Chandler Primary South Campus | Grades K-4 2015
BASIS Flagstaff | Grades 4-12 2011
BASIS Mesa | Grades 4-12 2013
BASIS Oro Valley | Grades K-12 2010
BASIS Peoria | Grades 5-12 2011
BASIS Phoenix | Grades 5-12 2012
BASIS Phoenix Central | Grades K-8 2014
BASIS Prescott | Grades K-12 2014
BASIS Scottsdale | Grades 4-12 2003
BASIS Scottsdale Primary | Grades K-3 2015
BASIS Tucson Primary | Grades K-4 1998
BASIS Tucson North | Grades 5-12 2012

Their Texas campuses are located:

BTX SCHOOLS Year Started
BASIS San Antonio Medical Center | Grades 5-11 2013
BASIS San Antonio North Central | Grades 5-10 2014

Their DC campus:

Washington, DC Schools Year Started
BASIS Washington DC | Grades 5-11 2012

I wouldn’t doubt that they would like to locate near you. Currently they are scheduled to open in Louisiana, Illinois and Colorado.

I probably receive 5-7 comment about BASIS in my email box each week (Check out the 51 comments at the bottom of this post). Many are from parents and students who basically say “stupid” students don’t belong at BASIS. The purposeful attrition of students is one of the major issues with this particular corporate charter chain, but there are many other critiques. From Wikipedia:

Both BASIS schools and their parent organization have been the subject of criticism and controversy. Critics contend that BASIS is failing to provide adequate financial transparency and accountability as it uses for-profit management company.[12] Another investigative article in 2010 questioned the founders’ salary compared to the teachers and other public school administrators.[13]

Other critics take issue with BASIS’s accelerated curriculum and general educational philosophy. Some argue that BASIS focuses too much on standardized testing.[14]Critics also point out that BASIS’s performance in national ranking systems like the U.S. News & World Report is largely a function of BASIS’s singular focus on mandatory AP testing, as these ranking systems give great weight to the percentage of students at a school that take AP tests.[15] Critics also take issue with BASIS’s attrition rates (senior classes are typically a third to a quarter of the size of the fifth grade class) and argue that BASIS achieves good test scores in part by weeding out underperforming students.[16][17][18] In 2013, the D.C. Charter School Board rejected a request from BASIS DC to expand, citing concerns about the high number of students who had withdrawn from the school since it opened.[19]

I also receive emails from parents who are highly critical of what has happened to their children at BASIS. The #3 most read post ever on Cloaking Inequity is currently Parent Horror Stories from BASIS: Corporate Charter Hurting Children? I wrote at the time:

I am blogging about two parent horror stories from BASIS. Let me just warn you, after hearing parents talk about what allegedly happened to their children at BASIS, you will likely be in a surly mood learning about this corporate (quasi-for profit) charter chain. The BASIS corporate charter chain is now a very unfavorite of mine.

Today I received notification from a parent that she is fed up and wants to pursue a class action lawsuit.

Hello, I just wanted to share this and see what type of response I can get. I am involved in an on going complaint I filed against BASIS ed. with the Office of Civil Rights for openly stating to myself as well as numerous other educators at their July 2014 teacher training that they DO NOT and WILL NOT modify their curriculum for students with disabilities. Since the OCR accepted and took on my complaint, BASIS has come to a settlement agreement (please be sure to understand that they are not admitting to fault or guilt) with the OCR and have been placed on a series of OCR monitored trainings and changes to their core policies in regard to the no modification policy they trained me on including section 504 and how it relates to special education. My OCR attorney has asked if I would like to start a class action law suit against BASIS, however their needs to be 100 or more families with students that have been discriminated against by BASIS either while enrolled or during the process of enrollment (e.g. being told they will not modify their curriculum for a student). Please email me if you are interested. I will be keeping a running total of interested parties and sending out periodic emails to keep everyone posted as to how many people actually are interested. I will send out an email about every 3-4 weeks. Also, forward my email to anyone that could have possibly had this happen to their child or children. Please lets take a stand against an institution that openly trained employees to refuse modifications to students with disabilities.

Deborah Graham


Please forward this information to anyone that you believe would benefit from this potential legal action.

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  • Concerned Citizen

    -In 2019 the Washington Post reported that BASIS DC is under federal investigation for allegations it more harshly disciplines African American students. It also reported that the Department of Education has an open investigation into an allegation of employment discrimination at BASIS DC. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/a-top-dc-charter-school-faces-federal-review-over-discipline-practices/2019/02/16/24975702-3075-11e9-813a-0ab2f17e305b_story.html
    -In 2019 Advocates for Justice and Education found “BASIS DC has created a culture that discourages students of color from enrolling or remaining in the school.” http://www.aje-dc.org/2019/02/19/aje-in-the-news-2/
    -In 2019 the AZ Central reported that BASIS Arizona had a class shame a black student for a lesson on school segregation https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix-education/2019/04/15/phoenix-mom-says-teacher-shamed-black-student-lesson-segregation/3468937002/
    -Since 2017 BASIS DC has 4 pending cases before the Department of Education for Title VI violations and for denying students FAPE ( Free Appropriate Public Education).
    -Since 2017 BASIS Arizona has 2 pending cases at the Department of Education for Title IX violations for sexual harassment and retaliation.
    -In 2015 the DC Office of Human Rights found probable cause that BASIS DC discriminated and retaliated against a former teacher for voicing concerns about the school’s practices of racial segregation, disproportionate discipline of minority students and derogatory terms used against minorities
    -In 2013 DC PCSB found concerns that the school systematically ignored the needs of students with disabilities
    -In 2013 DC PCSB rejected BASIS DC’s request to expand citing concern of the high number of students, mainly minorities, who had withdrawn from the charter schoolhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/dc-charter-board-rejects-request-from-basis-to-expand/2013/04/16/32a735ee-a69a-11e2-8302-3c7e0ea97057_story.html
    -In 2013 the Department of Education found BASIS DC discriminates against English Language Learners ( ELL’s) and students with special needs ( SPED)
    -In 2013 the Washington Post reported that multiple parent complaints prompted the D.C. Public Charter School Board’s staff to conduct a two-day review of the school’s special-education program. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/officials-scrutinize-special-education-services-at-basis-dc/2013/08/04/adb16fe2-f880-11e2-afc1-c850c6ee5af8_story.html


  • I too was a teacher for BASIS for eight years and taught AP history classes at Scottsdale. It was an experience and an interesting place to work. Whilst there, the school evolved greatly. I think schools in general have a lot of problems, but I also think the very nature of BASIS brings more scrutiny than it deserves. When you are at the top many will bring you down, or at least try. It is not a school for everyone. They used to advertise that fact openly, and even admit there was a considerable chance that a student may not make it. I can say that BASIS is more a business than a school now, which is obvious by their administrative hires since 2008. What is funny is that if the Blocks EVER learned what their administrators say behind their backs there would be a Purge even Stalin would gasp at. Unfortunately, the Blocks have surrounded themselves with opportunists that are only as loyal as their salaries. It was actually sad to see while employed there. When I started there in 2006 the school was tight and its teachers and administrators loyal. Now, the administration was fairly inbred, talentless and nepotistic, with little if any real experience in teaching. Its a shame, they had the workings of a great school and concept.


  • As a former teacher of AP history classes at BASIS, I applaud your scrutiny and the parents’ outspokenness. I was at the very first BASIS school at a time when parents were unaware of the disturbing educational issues. Teachers cannot speak about our own experiences there for fear of retaliation. Now that I am retired, I am no longer afraid to support your attempts to expose this charter school.


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