Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, whose district includes Long Beach, introduced AB 312 this week, which seeks to strengthen California’s support for students with disabilities, it was announced.
The bill would create a state funding source for special education preschool services and address long-standing special education funding inequities, according to the announcement.
“California’s public schools must support all students, and that includes our children with disabilities,” said O’Donnell, chair of the Assembly Education Committee and teacher, in a statement. “AB 312 will address a fundamental issue of fairness in funding, while providing critical special education services that empower students to achieve their full academic potential.”
Currently, no financial support is provided by the state for special education preschool programs. Investing in these programs may reduce the need for future special education interventions by as much as 40 to 60 percent, the release stated.
In addition, the bill requires California to commit more resources to special education to balance out the state’s special education funding rates.
“We applaud Assemblymember O’Donnell’s efforts to address the inequities in special education funding,” said David Toston, associate superintendent of the El Dorado County SELPA and chair of the Coalition for Adequate Funding for Special Education. “Establishing a funding stream for early interventions will produce significant educational and social benefits as well as cut costs over the long-term.”
The bill now awaits referral to its first policy committee.