Senator Ochoa Bogh Works to Strengthen Inclusion in Classrooms and Empower Students with Disabilities

Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa) has introduced Senate Bill 1113to help enrich the lives of children with disabilities by advancing the opportunities to learn in general educational settings alongside peers without disabilities. 

“There is nothing more valuable than an education. Providing every child a higher quality education in the best environment will make all the difference in their lives and our future as a great nation,” said Senator Ochoa Bogh. “That is why it is important to ensure all children, especially those with disabilities, have the opportunity to thrive in educational settings that promote inclusion.”

SB 1113 will provide a clear definition of inclusionary practices, in order to have a more uniform understanding of overall guidance on inclusion. This bill will promote the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classrooms by addressing and implementing inclusionary practices through an updated guidebook, a mandated review for the consideration of inclusionary methods in textbooks, funding technical assistance providers, a study to determine appropriate staffing numbers to achieve best practices and requiring training in inclusive practices for new school administrators.

“California’s students with disabilities still have to struggle in many schools to be included with their typically developing peers in general education classes,” said Adam Stein, representative of SELPA Administrators of California. “In fact, many are excluded unnecessarily. A solid body of research shows that both students with disabilities and their non-disabled peers benefit from inclusion in general education, and students who are included show a lower rate of dropout, suspension, failure in employment, and other risk factors. SB 1113 will provide some much-needed steps towards ensuring all students with disabilities get a chance at the same education all of their peers receive.”

In 2017–18, California had one of the lowest inclusion rates for students with disabilities in the country: 56 percent compared to a national average of 63.4 percent. The Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and state law mandate that students are educated in the least restrictive environment. In practice, deciding what “least restrictive environment” is appropriate for a student with a disability is left up to the district and parent to determine. Parents are often unaware of how that is defined in the law, and many local education agencies continue to place students in more restrictive settings unnecessarily.

“All California students deserve an education worthy of their potential. For too long, this education has been out of reach for many of our students with disabilities,” Said Ochoa Bogh. “Allowing children to learn in the least restrictive environments is a vital component in student achievement. We must work to educate parents, teachers, and administrators about the value of allowing students with disabilities to learn alongside peers without disabilities and how that helps our most vulnerable students develop healthy relationships with their school and community setting them up for future success.”