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with support from The California Endowment 


Feb. 11, 2014 Issue 13

Special Education

'Trauma-informed' approach helps special ed children overcome challenges at home and neighborhoods 


Joseph Ham, a classroom counselor, is assigned to a student with special needs but works with all students in a general education classroom in Oakland. Credit: Jane Meredith Adams, EdSource Today

A pilot program in Oakland and San Francisco is hoping to help children categorized as being "emotionally disturbed" under special education law by addressing what may contribute to their difficulties: trauma they've endured at home or in their neighborhoods.


Research shows that these children have especially poor education outcomes. More than two out of five students with emotional or behavioral disorders, such as severe depression or aggressive behavior, leave high school before graduating, research has shown, and four years after high school, nearly three out of five have been arrested.


Emotional disturbance is an umbrella term used by the Individual with Disabilities Education Act and defined as "an inability to learn" that cannot be explained by intellectual or health factors and "an inability to create satisfactory interpersonal relationships" with peers and teachers, among other criteria, EdSource reports


Student Safety

Some schools failing to protect students from sexual abuse by school personnel, federal report says

The failure of U.S. schools to protect students from sexual abuse by school personnel is a story of district cover-ups, lack of training, incomplete teacher background checks and little guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, according to a new federal report. 


The U.S. Government Accountability Office said the nation's K-12 schools lack a systemic approach to preventing and reporting educator sexual abuse of students, despite a problem that the report said affects an estimated 9.6 percent of students - nearly one in 10 - who are subjected to sexual misconduct by teachers, coaches, principals, bus drivers and other personnel during their K-12 career, EdSource reports

Student Health: Obesity and Dental Care

Overweight is the 'new normal': parents don't see their children as overweight or obese, study finds
Teledentistry bill passes California Assembly, measure would increase access to dental care for students
Half of parents of overweight or obese children think their kids are at normal weight, according to new analysis published in the journal Pediatrics.


Researchers at the University of Nebraska theorized that the prevalence of childhood obesity might make it more difficult for parents to gauge accurately their child's weight. Parents were particularly poor at judging their 2-to-5 year old child as overweight, perhaps in the belief that the child would outgrow "baby fat," the study's authors noted. Research has shown, though, that young children with excess weight are likely to carry that weight into adolescence, the study said.


With dental disease a major issue in student health and school attendance - 24 percent of California school children have never seen a dentist - a bill to increase student access to dental care through remote "teledentistry" was moved to the state Senate on Feb. 6. The bill passed the Assembly with broad bipartisan support.


Assembly Bill 1174, authored by Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, would allow dentists to receive Medi-Cal payments for supervising the work of hygienists and dental assistants, who would be trained to provide more expansive care in schools, Head Start centers and community settings, EdSource reports.


School Climate

New suspension data show drop in use of 'willful defiance,' but ethnic disparities remain

Fewer students are being suspended for "willful defiance" of school authorities, but African American students are still much more likely than their peers to be suspended for that reason, new data show. 


The category of willful defiance, which also includes disruption of school activities, accounted for 43 percent of all suspensions statewide in 2012-13, down from 48 percent the previous year.


A growing body of research points to the importance of helping students regulate their emotions and peacefully solve conflicts, particularly if they are growing up in neighborhoods where they regularly experience conflict or violence. Promoting such social skills along with creating "positive classroom environments" in schools has been tied to increased student academic achievement and emotional wellbeing, along with reduced disciplinary infractions, including suspensions, EdSource reports.  


'Advancing school health in a time of reform': March 6-7 in Oakland


The California School-Based Health Alliance, formerly the California School Health Centers Association, is holding a statewide conference on trends in providing health care in schools. Workshop topics include trauma-informed practices in the classroom, new rules on medication administration at schools and creating Local Control and Accountability Plans to help reduce absenteeism. Plus: student oral health, physical activity and more. Thursday, March 6 and Friday, March 7. Location: Oakland Marriott City Center. Register here.


Recent Editions of the EdHealth Newsletter:

EdHealth Newsletter Issue 12: Largest districts vary in use of "willful defiance"
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 11: Trauma-informed teaching to reach troubled youth
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 10: New law increases awareness of concussions
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 9:   More teens drinking sugary beverages
EdHealth Newsletter Issue 8:   Free lunch sign-ups crucial to school funding

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