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Students With Special Needs Celebrate New Law

  • Published: 2010-11-18 : Spectrum Center.
  • Synopsis: Spectrum Center students developed the idea for the law and advocated for it during the recent legislative session

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Spectrum Center students developed the idea for the law and advocated for it during the recent legislative session.

Spectrum Center Students Thank Assembly Member for Support

Spectrum Center students hosted Assembly Member Joe Coto (D-San Jose) and guests to celebrate the signing of the "Spectrum Law" (AB 1742), which was initiated by Spectrum students who have special needs and provides all California students who have special needs equal access to technology-based learning materials in the classroom.

Assembly Member Coto, who is a former public school teacher and superintendent, met with Spectrum students, staff and parents to see how access to new technologies will help students advance academically and in daily life. Students presented photos, videos and PowerPoint presentations showcasing their use of technology in the classroom and its impact on education.

"We are delighted the Spectrum bill has passed and that students with special needs can now have access to the kind of technology that will help them advance academically," Coto, a former public school teacher and superintendent, said when he visited the school recently. "It is both fair and vital that students with special needs who attend California nonpublic schools have access to the same resources as their peers. As a leader in special education, Spectrum Center and its students should be congratulated for advocating on behalf of all students in California."

Spectrum students developed the idea for the law after they visited the state capitol last November and learned how laws are developed. One of the students said, "You mean someone like me could create a bill that could become a law that would help other people like me" The students' idea about equal access to technology was developed into formal legislation that Spectrum Center students in classrooms throughout the state decided to introduce and support.

The students worked with Assembly Member Coto, who authored AB 1742, and personally advocated for the bill in both houses of the Legislature. They met with key staff and Members of the Education Committee, and they wrote letters and created videos to express their support of the bill and describe the personal impact the bill will have on their lives. The bill passed the state Assembly (76-0) and the Senate (34-0) with unanimous bipartisan support. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger in August and will take effect Jan. 1, 2011. Students received a framed copy of the bill signed by the governor.

The new law, which is supported by the California State PTA, California Association of Private Special Education Schools and the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, provides an opportunity for nonpublic, nonsectarian schools to incorporate the use of technology when customizing teaching strategies and curriculum for students with special needs such as autism spectrum disorders, pervasive developmental disorders and developmental delays. In other states, technology-based learning tools have been shown to help students learn skills for use in future jobs and in independent living.

Spectrum Center's state-certified nonpublic schools and public school integrated collaborative classrooms provide special education services to students ages five to 22 with a wide array of special needs, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD), developmental delays, behavioral challenges, pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) and emotional disturbance.

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