O’Donnell introduces legislation to strengthen special-education funding

Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D—Long Beach) on Feb. 6 introduced AB 312, which strengthens California’s support for students with disabilities by creating a state funding source for special-education preschool services and addressing long-standing special-education funding inequities.

California currently provides no financial support for special-education preschool programs, which are highly effective at improving academic outcomes for students with special needs, according to O’Donnell, a teacher who serves as chair of the Assembly Education Committee. Investing in special-education preschool programs may reduce the need for future special-education interventions by as much as 40 to 60 percent, according to O’Donnell’s office. Additionally, AB 312 requires the State to commit more resources to special education in order to balance out California’s special-education funding rates.

“California’s public schools must support all students, and that includes our children with disabilities,” O’Donnell said. “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.”

The bill now awaits referral to its first policy committee.

“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.”

Source: O’Donnell’s office