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Today, Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose) introduced SB 692, the “Special Education Inclusion Act”, sponsored by the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE).
With numerous studies indicating that inclusion significantly increases graduation rates and academic performance for students with disabilities, SB 692 would create a disincentive for schools to segregate students with special needs into separate and unequal classrooms when a student is capable of performing at grade level and/or has no cognitive impairment.
“California is behind when it comes to inclusion rates for students with special needs,” says Senator Cortese who serves on the Senate Education Committee. “This bill will reimagine how to provide specialty and high-quality education to meet the needs of all students.”
By adding an existing federal “inclusion” or “Least Restrictive Environment” target to existing state accountability dashboard for California schools, this bill would disincentive districts from inappropriately placing those with special needs into segregated classrooms and hold schools accountable to creating more inclusion.
This bill would also incentivize districts to provide general education teachers with training and professional development on teaching strategies for the most common disabilities such as ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and autism.
"Despite state and local efforts, California still ranks poorly in rates of inclusion as compared to other states. Research indicates that all students do better, and that society's understanding of disability evolves, when students with disabilities receive educational supports and services in inclusive environments and classrooms," said Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Ann Dewan who heads SCCOE.
“Having served on a School Board myself, I know that our schools are grappling with their most difficult challenges,” the Senator continued, adding that his District owes a deep debt of gratitude to Dr. Mary Ann Dewan and the Santa Clara County Office of Education “for their continued leadership during this pandemic and the work they are doing to invest in our children and support teachers.”
The Senator has partnered with SCCOE on several initiatives that have spread across his entire district, including creating the $40 million-a-year School Linked Services program across about 200 schools that connects students and families to county mental health counseling, case management, and public health services as well as a partnership established during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that provided laptops and tablets to all 15,000 families with students that lacked internet and/or digital devices during distance learning.
For more information, contact Tara Sreekrishnan, Office of Senator Dave Cortese at 408-480-7833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senator Dave Cortese represents State Senate District 15 which encompasses most of Santa Clara County, including the cities of Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, and much of San Jose, stretching from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west and Mountain Hamilton Range to the east.
The Santa Clara County Office of Education’s (SCCOE) programs and services support students, parents, teachers and leaders of Santa Clara County's 31 school districts. SCCOE services range from instructional to technical, and our programs include special, alternative and migrant education.