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Special Needs Students Deserve Inclusive Learning Environments

Some parents of special needs students in California have likely experienced the exclusive and segregated environment that often persists in early education classrooms. Although many children who have disabilities attend the same preschools as typically-developing children, they are often learning in separate settings.

The federal government has recognized this as a problem that needs to be addressed in preschools across the country. To begin creating a path forward, Health and Human Services along with the U.S. Department of Education has published a draft policy that is open for public discussion and comment.

The draft policy defines inclusion in early childhood programs as an environment in which children with disabilities learn alongside their peers who do not have disabilities. The right environment, it says, is one that supports each child's needs and fosters a collaborative, inclusive classroom.

To date, children who have disabilities have been sorely underserved in school, and segregated learning environments do not promote the collaboration and inclusion that can help students with special needs reach their full potential.

As a national policy is worked out, the government is encouraging states to create their own policies and establish task forces that would help ensure their students are receiving the support they need to flourish in the classroom.

Although it may be some time before a policy is in place, it is important for parents to know that they can take action now if they believe their child is being treated unfairly in school. An attorney can help you understand what your options are.

Source: Disability Scoop, "Feds Call For Greater Inclusion In Preschools," Michelle Diament, May 19, 2015

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