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Steven A. Greenburg, Education Law
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Study questions frequency rate of special education referrals

Our children, no matter if they have a disability or not, deserve to have access to the best education possible. It's a belief we not only hold to be true but it's something all of our Santa Cruz readers hold in their hearts as well. But it's when we hear stories like the one below that we start to question if this is a belief the state holds true above all else as well.

We raise this speculation because of a study that was conducted on the other side of the country. Researchers looked at state-funded early childhood programs and how often these programs referred a chronically ill or disabled child to a special education program. According to the researchers' findings, some state-funded early childhood programs made very few referrals for special education, even in cases where the child exhibited a behavioral-emotional disability.

As researchers explained, special education programs are oftentimes more expensive to run than traditional learning programs, which is likely why these programs did not make many referrals. Even though funding may be an issue in some states, it should never come at the cost of a child's chance at a proper education, our readers would argue.

Even though this study looked at early childhood programs in another state, it probably still resonates with our readers who might be asking: do our state-run early childhood programs only consider cost when making decisions about special education needs? We certainly hope not, especially because our laws encourage referrals to special education programs if the child shows a need.

Although cases like this might not necessarily lead to litigation every time they could if a parent thinks that their child's chance at a proper education was taken away because a state-funded program considered costs to be more important than the child's education. In cases like this, getting help from an experienced education law attorney may be necessary in order to take legal action.

Sources: EdSource, "Study finds preschool programs lower special education referrals," Susan Frey, Feb. 3, 2015

Govt.westlaw.com, "§ 3021.1. Referral of Pupils Having a Diagnosed Chronic Illness," Accessed Feb. 5, 2015

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