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California: Statewide GROWING number of SPED students; overall enrollment down

Aug 22, 2019, Palm Springs (CA) Desert Sun: Helping valley students manage behavior is no longer just a job for special education, teachers say School districts across the Coachella Valley say improving students' behavior and mental health will no longer just be a job for special education teachers. During the past several years, the Coachella Valley's three school districts have implemented "multi-tiered systems of support" to address negative student behaviors before automatically referring students to special education programs that can be costly and restrictive for learning…. Almazan said in the first year of implementing the support systems, the 577-student school saw fewer disciplinary referrals and overall positive changes to the campus culture. She's hopeful the framework will work at the district's 20 other schools. Administrators and teachers at Coachella Valley Unified have been pushing the multi-tiered approach as a remedy to reduce unnecessary referrals to special education. In the past five years, overall enrollment declined at Coachella Valley schools while the special education population grew The inverse trend has strained district budgets that receive funding for special education from the state and federal government based on their overall enrollment. That means special education funding can shrink while the need increases. Across the state, school districts are struggling with a growing population of students participating in special education services, amidst a shrinking overall enrollment, which determines funding for students with disabilities. This year, the Desert Sands Unified School District will launch a five-year plan to fully standardize the multi-tiered approach by the 2023-2024 school year.


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