In Short

State senator launches campaign for Oregon students denied class time due to language, disability

By: - January 11, 2022 5:45 am
Empty classroom

State Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin is collecting complaints, testimonies from students denied class and learning time during the pandemic due to disability or need for language or behavioral supports. (Malheur Enterprise/Rachel Parsons)

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 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, 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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Alex Baumhardt
Alex Baumhardt

Alex Baumhardt has been a national radio producer focusing on education for American Public Media since 2017. She has reported from the Arctic to the Antarctic for national and international media, and from Minnesota and Oregon for The Washington Post. She previously worked in Iceland and Qatar and was a Fulbright scholar in Spain where she earned a master's degree in digital media. She's been a kayaking guide in Alaska, farmed on four continents and worked the night shift at several bakeries to support her reporting along the way.