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Washington Post: DC Considers Measures to Speed Special Ed

July 2, 2014

The Washington Post reported on recently proposed special education reforms introduced by Council Member David Catania, which Children’s Law Center helped write. The article quotes Mr. Catania and Children’s Law Center Executive Director Judith Sandalow, and other experts and advocates. Among the many changes that would take place if the reforms are enacted, the bills “would speed the delivery of services and change the balance of power between parents and schools, handing families new tools in disputes over appropriate services for their children.”

The Post writes: The city allows schools 120 days — more time than any state in the country — to complete special-education evaluations for children believed to have disabilities. City schools have made “marked progress” in complying with that timeline, according to the federal education agency, but still do not meet it in every case.

Catania’s legislation would cut the timeline in half, which advocates say is crucial to ensuring that children are helped as early as possible.

The current timeline lets young children languish without the help they need, falling behind academically and becoming increasingly frustrated with school, said Judith Sandalow, executive director of the Children’s Law Center, which represents children with special needs and which helped draft Catania’s legislation.

“The timeline sets children up to fail,” Sandalow said.