The District of Columbia City Council is hoping to help the process of turning around one of the nation’s most troubled special education systems, by passing bills aimed at reducing the amount of time parents have to wait to have their children evaluated, expanding eligibility for early-intervention services, and starting transition services for students at age 14 instead of 16.
The Washington Post reports that the bills, passed Tuesday, were nearly a year in the making.
The 45,000-student system has struggled with special education services for years. The problems have been so severe that the District’s due process hearings, even with a notable drop over the past few years, still represent a large portion of all due process hearings in the country. The school system’s special education system has also been designated “needs intervention” by the U.S. Department of Education for several years in a row.
District of Columbia schools have worked to improve and expand services, leading to that drop in due process hearings mentioned earlier. In September, the city asked the court to end a long-running special education lawsuit because of the improvements it has made.
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.