SB 819 Provides disabled students full class days

VOTE: NO – Signed into law by Gov.Kotek on 7-13-23, effective 7-13-23
Status (overview) of bill: assigned to bill:

This bill establishes requirement that school district must document efforts to provide access to full school days before considering or recommending a student for abbreviated school days. Prohibits school districts from considering, recommending, or implementing abbreviated school days due to staffing. Prohibits school districts from unilaterally placing student on abbreviated school days. Allows for abbreviated school days only in situations where the student’s individualized education program team recommends.

[Written by Dr. Michael Bratland]

SB 819 requires that schools that want to assign a student with a disability a shortened day or days must secure the parent or guardian’s consent. If the parent files a written objection to their child’s shortened school day, the district will have to return the student to school within five school days or face the loss of state school funds and the responsible administrator will face disciplinary action. The bill is supposed to secure the rights of students with disabilities and put an end to the heart-breaking cases where students are left without education services and their parents are too often left in the lurch.

SB 819 may be addressing a real problem – students with disabilities not gaining the educational services they’re entitled by federal law to receive – but it falls short on two counts. One, it fails to recognize that many of these students often present severe behavioral problems (meltdowns, acting-out, violence, etc.) and make it impossible for teachers to teach the other 20, 30 or 40 kids in their regular classroom. Classroom teachers understand this reality, and even parents of these students with disabilities, acknowledge their kids’ behavioral issues. Two, SB 819 fails to include classroom teachers in its proposed solution. (Where, you might ask are the teachers unions in all this? Just who is representing regular teachers?) Legislators, school boards and administrators should be fostering strong parent-teacher partnerships that guarantee classrooms are not hijacked by a handful of chronically disruptive students. At the very least, SB 819 needs an amendment to this effect if it is to move forward. At the very least, our Oregon legislators need to strike a balance between the rights of students with disabilities and the rights of all students and their teachers to orderly classrooms.

Oregon’s SB 819 further dis-empowers our teachers. It says that Oregon legislators, in a weird bipartisan fashion, are busy passing a bill that will make our state’s classrooms more unmanageable. Oregon’s teachers, parents and students deserve so much better.

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