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Governor creates state's first Office of Special Education

Mariquitas CK via Wikimedia
Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham recently signed an executive order to create the Office of Special Education, which is the first of its kind in New Mexico.

A special education advocate said there are a lot of gaps this office needs to fill and help families.

Katie Stone, who also hosts a show on KUNM, works with the New Mexico Developmental Disability Council. She said what’s missing right now is the continuum of care and learning from cradle to college, requiring teachers, parents, and students to jump through hoops.

"What parents really want is what exists in real life. People with disabilities are not in some separate community. And in schools children with disabilities are often segregated into other classes or pulled out of class in order to be given services and they may miss instructional time" said Stone.

The disability council noted in an editorial that many special education classrooms lack a dedicated, full-time teacher, educational assistants, or other support staff, and graduation rates for students receiving special education services lag behind those of their peers.

About 16% of New Mexico children receive special education services and the new office aims to create more opportunities for collaboration among departments.

It will focus on requiring professional development for special education teachers, promote both recruitment and retention of special educators, and require technical assistance for appropriate behavioral management.

There’s a national search underway to find a director for the new office, but Stone says she hopes that person will be bilingual and have either professional or personal experience with special education.

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

Taylor is a reporter with our Poverty and Public Health project. She is a lover of books and a proud dog mom. She's been published in Albuquerque The Magazine several times and enjoys writing about politics and travel.
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