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Making Special Education History

March 18, 2014

Children’s Law Center spoke today before education advocates and parents at a press conference to announce historic legislation overhauling the District’s special education system. The reforms—introduced by Councilmember David Catania—promise to get special education to children earlier, give parents the tools to be involved, and build capacity at DCPS and charter schools.

Special education reforms are badly needed in the District. Every week our lawyers get dozens of calls from parents, grandparents and others who are struggling to understand why a school can’t do more to help their child learn. Whether a child has dyslexia, a hearing impairment or is in a wheelchair, we believe they deserve a quality education. Instead, far too many children do not graduate, and others finish school without the basic skills they need to support themselves.

Children’s Law Center spearheaded a large-scale collaborative effort to help develop these recommended reforms. We reviewed lessons learned from our work helping more than 20,000 of the District’s children over the past 17 years; examined special education best practices from around the country; interviewed more than 40 DC education advocates; and drew on our close collaboration with all of the District’s education agencies.

Among the many important changes proposed in today’s special education legislation: a plan to dramatically reduce the amount of time a school has to evaluate a child with special needs. The bills also would require schools to fully inform parents about special education options for their children, and increase and improve services being offered within schools.

Read more about the proposed special education reforms in the news:

Also read Children’s Law Center’s remarks from the March 18 press conference to introduce the special education legislation.