A victory for students with disabilities

Today, Governor Kate Brown signed legislation that will ensure students who experience behavioral challenges caused by a disability are not unnecessarily excluded from school.

Some Oregon school districts do not work with teachers and families to address behavioral problems involving students with disabilities. Instead, they exclude the student from school, and substitute just one hour of tutoring per day at home.

This legislation is meant to stop the unnecessary exclusion of students with disabilities from the classroom and increase their access to education.

In recent years, Disability Rights Oregon and family groups have received a growing number of complaints from parents about their children with disabilities being excluded from the classroom and school.

For the past three years, we’ve been working to reverse this trend. Our hope is that it will empower parents to demand the full school day that each child deserves.

Access to education is a cornerstone of preparing young people for life. Students with disabilities should not face barriers to accessing the learning hours which they need to grow and develop.

Data from FACT Oregon, shows that between September 1, 2016 and January 20, 2017, its helpline provided special education-related support to 468 unduplicated family members of students with disabilities.

Of those interactions:

  • 12.5 percent contacted FACT because their child was placed on a shortened/reduced school day related to behaviors.
  • The issue of shortened school day made up over 30 percent of FACT’s individual contacts with families, because the support required to help families navigate this issue is often intensive.
  • 27 percent of these families who contacted FACT on this issue represent children seven years old and younger, approximately in kindergarten through second grade.

Disability Rights Oregon advocated for this legislation alongside COSA (Confederation of Oregon School Administrators), OSBA (Oregon School Boards Association), ODE (Oregon Department of Education) and FACT Oregon to take this step forward for students with disabilities who have behavioral needs.

We thank Senators Sara Gelser and Tim Knopp and Representative Margaret Doherty for their leadership and tireless work to move this legislation forward. Because of their remarkable efforts, today, this bill became law, and hundreds, if not thousands, of students across the state will benefit.

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