Group Wants More Special Students Taught in Local District Classrooms

Article excerpt

Byline: Jon Marshall Daily Herald Staff Writer

New plan for Lake County students with disabilities

Who: About 300 students with moderate disabilities

What: Students study in their home districts instead of at separate facilities

Where it would apply: School districts with 10 or more students with disabilities

When: Starting in 2000

Cost: Will vary among districts. The overall plan would cost districts an extra $336 annually per special education student

Source: Special Education District of Lake County

The Special Education District of Lake County is considering a plan to place more students with moderate disabilities in their neighborhood schools.

The plan would save students from being bused around the county and allow them to interact more with their peers, special education district Superintendent John Anderson said Thursday.

"We think this represents a better philosophy rather than segregating the children," Anderson said. "Children with disabilities deserve as much opportunity to receive their education in their home district as do other children."

Local school districts will have a choice of putting the special education students in regular classrooms or creating resource rooms for them, Anderson said.

Students with severe disabilities would remain in separate special education district classrooms, Anderson said.

The special education district teaches 2,600 Lake County students with mental, physical or emotional disabilities.

The proposal would affect about 300 of those students, Anderson said. It would apply to schools that have more than 10 students with moderate disabilities.

The district's plan reflects a national trend toward more inclusion of special education students in local schools and regular classrooms.

During the last 10 years, the number of regular classroom placements rose from roughly 30 percent to about 40 percent of all special education students, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The trend results from a push for classroom inclusion by some disability advocacy groups and a desire by special education programs to save money, said Robert Tate, an analyst with the National Education Association, a teachers union. …