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The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has released four new resources to help students with disabilities, their families, and schools understand the civil rights protections guaranteed to students with asthma, diabetes, food allergies, and gastroesophageal reflux disease or gastroesophageal reflux. The resources explain how these medical conditions can impact a student’s school experience, how the conditions could require protections for students under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the options for parents and students if they believe schools aren’t meeting their federal legal obligations. Additionally, OCR shared updated statistics showing there were 8.4m students with disabilities who comprised 17% of the nation’s pre-K-12 student population in 2020-21. About 3%, or 1.6m, of the total student population were students with disabilities who received supports and services under only Section 504 that school year.Full Issue
A public-interest law firm, Public Advocates, is threatening to sue California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state officials unless they create a fairer system of subsidizing the costs of school facilities. The firm argues that the current system discriminates against districts with low property values, leaving them unable to afford local school bonds to qualify for state subsidies. Public Advocates demands a system as equitable as the Local Control Funding Formula. The law firm's managing attorney, John Affeldt, states that lower-wealth districts have received nearly 60% less state modernization funding than higher-wealth districts since 1998. The demand letter coincides with negotiations between legislative leaders and the Newsom administration over a school facilities bond for the November ballot. Public Advocates calls for addressing only the modernization program and raising the qualifying criteria for small districts. If negotiations fail, a lawsuit in the fall could complicate the chances of passing a bond measure in November.Full Issue
Over the 2022-23 school year in New York City, nearly one in five public schoolteachers was absent 11 days or more, an increase from the year prior, and from before the pandemic. In Michigan meanwhile, roughly 15% of teachers were absent in any given week last school year, compared with about 10% in 2019. More recently, teacher absences forced a school in Ohio to close for a day, research has found. Notably, schools serving low-income areas are the least likely to be able to find enough substitutes. “The proof in the pudding is how many people have exhausted their leave and are asking to take days off that are unpaid. That used to be a really rare occurrence. Now it is weekly,” says Jim Fry, superintendent at College Place, a small district in southern Washington State. “Exhaustion is hitting them,” agrees Ian Roberts, superintendent of schools in Des Moines, which has recorded about 300 daily teacher absences this school year, up from about 250 last year. The pool of substitutes has also changed, educators say. Some substitutes were reluctant to return after the pandemic closures, while others took different jobs and never came back. The pay for substitutes, which averages around $20 an hour, is also less competitive in a strong economy.Full Issue
A Central Florida school district is suing several social media companies, accusing them of creating a mental health crisis in children that the district now has to spend money to handle. The Lake County School Board is suing the parent companies of Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, TikTok, Google, and YouTube in federal court, accusing the companies of negligence, and reckless conduct.Full Issue