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Steven A. Greenburg, Education Law
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Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4567

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Report: Special education placement for minority students

A recent study by Pennsylvania State University and the University of California, Irvine explores if institutionalized bias affects which students enter special education programs. The statistical breakdown of race/ethnic groups in special education shows a disproportionate amount of certain populations in the program when compared to their enrollment rates in the wider educational system—specifically American indigenous children and multi-racial children are enrolled at higher rates than their overall population suggests is normal.

The study explores this idea: are more minority children placed in special education and is it a result of bias?

The real problem is under-identification

The report has significant findings. First, that schools are under-identifying special education needs across the board. Second, that minority children are less likely to receive special education services than white students with similar testing scores. The report finds that school recognize special needs of female students, low-income students and students learning to speak English less frequently.

The real issue is still recognition of the problem, even with a push in recent years to make sure we have better educational resources for all children. Despite increased social awareness and acceptance of conditions like ADHD, autism and epilepsy, schools still under-identify special needs.

Know where to turn

The California educational system is difficult to navigate. When your children are struggling to fit into the established program it can be difficult to know what to do, how to get into the right special education program. All students are entitled to Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), but working through the system requires patience, determination and knowledge of your legal rights. An experienced lawyer who understands the state’s educational system may be able to explain your options and find a solution that helps get your children the education they need to succeed.

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