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Los Angeles Pledges to Make Magnet Schools More Inclusive

Students with disabilities won't be automatically banned from getting into a Los Angeles magnet school simply because they can't participate in a particular program for at least half the school day or because they require services in a separate classroom, the school district told a federally appointed monitor in a letter this week.

Earlier this year, the independent monitor that oversees how LAUSD works with special education students found that some of the district's practices may violate federal and state laws regarding these students. Los Angeles was assigned a monitor to oversee the district's work with students with disabilities following a 1996 lawsuit.

Although about 15 percent of the district's students have disabilities, 5 percent of the students who applied for a spot at a magnet school this year have a disability. And of the 14,354 students selected to attend a magnet school, 664, or 4.6 percent, were students with disabilities.

The monitor found that the district's policies that exclude students based on whether they could participate in the magnet program for at least half the day or need services in a separate classroom are solely directed at students with disabilities and resulted in "denying students equitable access to these schools of choice." In addition, these policies, which resulted in a so-called "No Match List" of students, were applied inconsistently across the district's more than 160 magnet schools.

In its response Wednesday, the district said it would abolish the No Match List and that students with disabilities would be accepted into magnet schools based on the same criteria as other students. And students with disabilities on a waiting list for a magnet school have already been offered open spots at those schools for this school year, the district said.

The school district also pledged to make sure services for students with disabilities are offered at magnet schools and that magnet school staff would be trained by special education staff on the process for developing IEPs.

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