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Fresno, CA: Inclusion rate dropping; SPED kids have double the chances of suspension

July 13, 2018, Fresno (CA) Bee: Special needs students suspended at twice rate of their general ed peers, report finds An audit of Fresno Unified’s special education services found that the district struggles to include students with disabilities in traditional classrooms, and suspends students with individualized education plans at more than double the rate of their general education peers…. But for 3- to 5-year-olds at Fresno Unified, the inclusion rate has dropped. In 2015, data showed that 59.2 percent of young children were taught alongside their non-disabled peers in a traditional preschool setting. In 2017, it was 37.3 percent. Assistant Superintendent for Special Education Brian Beck said the district intends to look into the root cause of that trend. “The good news is that we’re getting more students into those early intervention programs,” Beck said…. Superintendent Bob Nelson said the district is working to minimize out-of-school suspensions across the board, but that he realizes that addressing disproportionate outcomes needs to happen through more than just discipline. The exhaustive report also found achievement levels for students with disabilities are too low — FUSD students with disabilities had lower scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2015 than they did in 2009. Special needs students are segregated in ‘cramped’ and ‘unstable’ portables, parents say Report: District needs more staff Another of the recommendations includes hiring more special education staff members, as there is a shortage of paraeducators. … Special education professionals have been saying for years that they’re spread too thin according to Manuel Bonilla, president of the Fresno Teachers Association. Out of 79 school districts surveyed, 67 percent had smaller educator-to-student ratios than Fresno Unified, the report found.

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