District agrees to make sure school day is the same length

From Yamhill County’s News-Register

June 12,2020

McMinnville School District has agreed to address a complaint that schools dismissed some students with disabilities earlier than the rest of the student body, reducing their instruction time.

Federal law requires schools to treat all students the same.

Maryalice Russell, who signed a voluntary resolution with the state on Monday, said, “It’s the right thing to do.”

The state Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is requiring the district to assess its programs, determine the number of students involved and time they lost, and review and revise its policies and procedures to ensure all students get the same amount of instruction.

It also must ensure students who use specialized transportation don’t leave earlier than non-disabled students.

Russell said staff members had good intentions when they took students out to buses before others were released as they wanted to give them time to board or help them avoid crowds.

“Good intentions, but it’s not OK” if it means missing class time, she said.

Staff members have been reminded in the past, but now training will be more formal, the superintendent said.

The district also will be required by the Civil Rights office to provide “compensatory and/or remedial education” —additional classes — to make up for the time students missed by being dismissed early. Parents will review the compensatory plans and decide whether to accept them.

“We’ll comply with the rules and regulations for all students,” Russell added.

A Seaside man who advocates for students with disabilities and their families all over Northwest Oregon filed the complaint. Randy Anderson said he “staked out” McMinnville schools and recorded instances of staff members taking students with disabilities to their buses before other students were dismissed.

Anderson also has filed complaints about equality of athletic facilities in McMinnville and Seaside, as well as other complaints related to students with disabilities in several districts.

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