By Alex Baumhardt, Oregon Capital Chronicle
State Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin, D-Corvallis, launched a statewide campaign Monday to collect accounts of Oregon students who have been denied equal time in their schools during the pandemic due to disability, a need for behavioral support or a need for English Language Learner services.
She says she hopes to use the material from the #AllMeansAll campaign to illustrate the scale of the problem in Oregon schools, to inform legislation she’s crafting related to the state’s complaint process, and to help families formally complain to local, state and federal agencies.
Gelser Blouin created a survey for students and relatives to record instances when students with a disability or students in need of behavioral or language support were put into remote classes while their peers were in school, were assigned shorter school days and school weeks than their peers, and when these students were sent home from school early outside of normal policies.
The Capital Chronicle reported on the issues in December.
Her effort doesn’t apply to students who have missed class due to their vaccination status or mandatory quarantine.
Gelser Blouin noted on her the #AllMeansAll website that denying equal class and learning time to students with disabilities is illegal. Such practices violate the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The survey is available in both English and Spanish, and the statements and complaints feed into templates that her office and advocacy groups can then send to local, state and federal agencies. Personal information will not be shared without consent, according to the #AllMeansAll site.
Gelser Blouin is hoping to introduce legislation during February’s legislative session to change the way complaints are reported and investigated.
Currently, complaints must first be filed in the school and district where the alleged violation occurred. Some districts require specific forms to be filled out.
Gelser Blouin wants complaints to go directly to the Oregon Department of Education for potential investigation.
On Wednesday, Jan. 12 she’ll discuss her proposal with the Senate Education Committee, along with Colt Gill, the director of the state Education Department.
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