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22nd February 2024
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Office for Civil Rights releases new resources on students with disabilities
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.
School Leadership’s Guide to Career and Technical Education

Economic impacts are changing the employment landscape. Now more than ever it's critical to prepare students for careers in current and emerging professions through Career and Technical Education (CTE). Having developed 180+ award-winning digital courses, FlexPoint knows that CTE offerings look different for every school, based on location and student population. School and district leaders can learn how to enhance their CTE programs through the free FlexPoint guide.

In the guide, you’ll have access to:
  • An overview of nationally recognized Career Clusters and Programs of Study
  • Tips for selecting the best career pathways that evolve with the employment landscape
  • Sample survey questions to gauge students’ interests in future career opportunities
  • And more!
Download CTE Guide

Judge denies lawsuit seeking damages from Newton Teachers Union
The class-action lawsuit brought by three Newton families seeking damages connected to the recent 11-day teacher strike was denied by a judge Tuesday. Lital Asher-Dotan, along with two other parents, allege the Newton Teachers Association's strike pushed parents “to a point of desperation” which was “willful, wanton, and wrong.” The union will still pay more than $600,000 in fines, split between Newton Public Schools and the Commonwealth Treasury. “The Newton Teachers Association is pleased that the court agreed to the terms of the return-to-work agreement sought jointly by our union and the School Committee,” the NTA said.
Georgia House passes bill to potentially lower property taxes
Property tax rates in some Georgia school districts may decrease under House Bill 987, which passed in a 161-12 vote. The bill allows districts with low property wealth to qualify for state aid even if they lower property tax rates. The measure permits districts to drop their minimum property tax rate to 10 mills, down from the current 14 mills, while still qualifying for state equalization funds. The equalization program, which distributes $756m this year, ensures districts with limited taxable property have enough funds for education. However, the program clashes with the goal of lowering tax rates when property values rise. The bill would reduce equalization money for districts that go below the 10-mill floor. Notably, overall property tax collections in Georgia have risen by 41% from 2018 to 2022.
Teacher shortage concerns southwest Ohio school leaders
Local and national school leaders are concerned about a persistent teacher shortage, with mid-career resignations and a dwindling pool of candidates. While low pay is often blamed, Cincinnati teachers' average pay is well above the living wage. Cincinnati Public Schools' teachers make over $77,000 per year, more than the average in southwest Ohio. However, not all districts in the region have high teacher pay. Mason City Schools and Indian Hill Exempted Village School District are among the highest-paying systems, while New Miami Local Schools is among the lowest-paying districts.
Chicago school district ends $10.3m police contract
The Chicago School District has decided to end its $10.3m contract with the Chicago Police Department, following the approval of Mayor Brandon Johnson. Youth activists have been demanding the removal of school resource officers and advocating for more social services in Chicago Public Schools. This decision aligns with their demands and aims to redirect funds towards social services.
Pacific Grove Unified working to address bias and racism
Pacific Grove Unified is partnering with community-based organizations to provide cultural proficiency and incident response training for district and school administrators. The National Coalition Building Institute and the Black Leaders and Allies Collaborative will develop a series of professional development training. "Through this framework building, we’re going to have very clear expectations on what will happen when an incident of bias occurs," said Buck Roggeman, the district’s director of curriculum and special projects. The school board directed staff to include community partners and focus on diversity training in its professional development, after concerns were raised about racial trauma experienced by students in the district. The district aims to create a consistent framework for preventing and responding to bias incidents in schools.
Texas school districts qualify for state funding for clean transportation
Hundreds of Texas public school districts will likely qualify for state funding as they switch to electric buses and other clean forms of transportation. Districts can request reimbursement as they upgrade or replace diesel-powered buses. Roughly $13.5m is available through the grant program, which is administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. "The new school buses certainly have little to zero exhaust... so the air in and around the school buses are cleaner," said TCEQ Program Specialist Nate Hickman. Districts can choose to upgrade existing diesel buses to limit emissions or purchase new diesel, propane, and electric-powered vehicles. Applications for the 19th year of the Texas Clean School Bus program opened on February 14. Districts have until October 14 to apply, but funding is typically exhausted within the first few months. The state covers up to five projects for each district, including full reimbursement for retrofitting projects and up to 80% reimbursement for new school buses.
California colleges overlooking comebacker students
A new study reveals that California colleges often complicate the return process for students who drop out, known as "comebackers." The report, titled "From Setback to Success: Meeting Comebacker Students Where They Are," highlights the obstacles faced by these students, including overdue library book fines and disqualification for financial aid due to past poor grades. Over 6m Californians have attended college without obtaining a degree, and reaching out to these students is seen as crucial for equity and economic growth. The report recommends that colleges offer more flexibility in classes, provide extra support for struggling students, and reframe the perception of comebackers. The report also suggests restructuring academic calendars and offering shorter, more frequent classes to accommodate students' schedules. It is viewed as essential to support and empower marginalized individuals to access and complete college degrees in order to meet the state's goals.
School uniforms linked to decreased physical activity
A study published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science suggests that school uniform policies could serve as a barrier to children getting daily physical activity. Researchers from the University of Cambridge in England analyzed physical activity data from over one million young people in 135 countries and found that in countries where school uniforms are more prevalent, fewer kids get an average of 60 minutes of daily physical activity. The study also found that female students were found to get less exercise than males. While the study established an association, the researchers are calling for further research into a possible link between uniforms and more sedentary behavior. The goal is not to ban uniforms altogether, but to consider design and whether specific characteristics of a uniform might either encourage or restrict physical activity. Experts emphasize the importance of regular exercise for youth and suggest that families should make an effort to participate in physical activities that support better health.

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