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School's special education activity practices under scrutiny

There are many things one would hope schools would be vigilant about when it comes to what activities they have their students with special needs do as part of their education experience. One is ensuring that the activities they have each of their special education students do are well-suited to the particular student’s educational needs. Another is making sure the activities don’t stigmatize special needs students.

Recently, a debate has come up regarding whether the activities a Northern California high school has its special education students do are proper or are stigmatizing.

The practices in question regard some of the activities special needs students reportedly do in the Independent Living Skills class at the school, located in Elk Grove. These activities are cleaning tasks, such as trash pick-up. Purportedly, these activities are done at various parts of the school (sometimes where other students can see them) and the special needs students have matching blue shirts on when doing some of these activities.

A petition has come up criticizing these practices and requesting changes regarding the special-education-activity-related practices at the school and its associated school district. The petition has over 360 signatures, and its signatories include students, parents and teachers. The petition argues that the current practices at the school regarding having special education students do clean-up tasks go against the school district’s educational mission. The student who spearheaded the petition claims the practices are “demeaning” toward special needs students.

Administrators have said that the cleaning activities are aimed at helping special needs students learn important life skills.

It is expected that a meeting related to the petition and the issues it regards will be held this August. One wonders what will happen at the meeting and whether the school and the school district will ultimately keeps their current practices or change them.

It is important for schools to properly balance all relevant concerns/factors when picking activities for their special needs students. When they fail to, the educational experience of special needs students can be harmed. If a parent of a special needs child is concerned that the current special education practices at their child’s school may not be in their child’s best interests, they may want to talk with a skilled special education law attorney about what actions they could take.

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