LA Unified makes changes to special education

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Los Angeles Unified administrators today approved a significant change to the school district’s special education rules for its nearly 200 charter schools.

L.A. Unified has a large special education unit to support a range of students, from those with mild reading impairments to others with severe physical disabilities. Charter schools, independent of school district control, don’t have comparable resources. That's been a source of contention between the district and charters.

The change allows charter campuses in L.A. Unified to form their own support group, known as Special Education Local Plan Area. Jed Wallace, president of the California Charter Schools Association, says the change will offer charters flexibility, money and accountability. "This is something we’ve been working on for a long time. It’s been a contentious issue that many across the country do not think that school districts and charters could find a collaborative answer to, and here in Los Angeles we’re proving that in fact we can work together on these issues," Wallace says.

Disagreement led dozens of charters to petition or to leave L.A. Unified’s special ed group and join that of a school district in Northern California. Opponents of the change say it’ll allow charters to deny entry to students with severe disabilities, a charge charter supporters deny. State law entitles children to an education that appropriately meets their need.