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D.C. Council Set to Vote on Special Education Improvements

The District of Columbia school system may be seeing some changes that would  speed up special education identification and give parents more time to prepare for meetings with school staff to draft education plans for their children. 

The District's city council, which oversees policy for the 45,000-student school district, will take up a bill this fall that includes those changes, along with a requirement that school officials develop transition plans earlier for students with disabilities.

The Washington Post reports that the council's education committee unanimously approved the changes July 10, and now they go to the full council for consideration. 

The District of Columbia has had a troubled special education system for decadates. The system spends millions of dollars in transportation and tuition for students to attend private programs, but it has also been rated by the U.S. Department of Education eight years in a row as "needing intervention," the lowest rating in the education department's annual assessment of state special education programs. 

Nevertheless, special education advocates in the city say that the school system has been working hard to improve its programming. (I wrote in May about D.C.'s success in dropping its extremely high rate of due process hearings.

Judith Sandalow, the executive director of the Washington-based Children's Law Center, told the Post that the legislative package could encourage schools "to move faster and farther."

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