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Inclusive insights for unique learners

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

By Gilina Voon Sept. 28, 2023

In a bold step towards equality, California's public school system prohibits districts from relocating a disabled child unless school district specialists determine the child is cognitively incapable of engaging in standard classes due to the severity of their disability. This commitment to supporting children of all learning capabilities not only influences educational dynamics but also reflects a cultural movement to embrace diversity.

Jane Hong art

The school’s Special Education Department collaborates with other teachers to place special education students in classes with the rest of the student body. These teachers are provided with the student's specialized learning plans so they can make appropriate accommodations. Furthermore, special education aides, responsible for providing support to special education students in class, often visit classrooms to ensure students receive the necessary support. In addition to attending these general classes, there are different support classes based on a student's grade level and needs like Transition, TL2C and Social Cognition, all to ensure the students’ academic success.

Beyond classrooms, the school promotes inclusivity by welcoming students into clubs and sports, fostering students’ social interaction and collaboration. For instance, this year, the cross country team includes two students with special needs.

“We try to accommodate athletes with various backgrounds and aim to help special needs students feel like they belong in the program. Students on the team learn to build relationships and work as a part of a team. While they have to follow modified workouts, my efforts are focused on building their confidence and talent,” Cross Country Coach Rudy Montenegro said.

With the help of teachers and coaches, students in special education, such as Senior Leonardo Rosales, Jr. feel included and supported at school. They meet great friends from the general classes and are supported by the teachers who provide the students with more time to complete assignments and tests.

“I feel included at school since I have nice friends, like Jeyda Sloneker, who compliment me when I do well but also check in on me regularly. The staff from my transition classes and the aids are helpful when it comes to helping me succeed, from walking me through the assignment to giving me tips on an assignment,” Rosales said.

However, students like Rosales would appreciate it if more peers could show them around school and check up on their progress because it helps them feel heard and supported. Likewise, the special education teachers believe that it is important for these students to receive additional check-for-understandings in general classes to ensure they are keeping up with the concepts.

While the school works to include these students, special education students are still frequently treated differently from others. According to Stacy Fernandez, Special Education Department, it is crucial to not single out these students. She states that some students do not like being a part of the special education class because they feel like an outcast when the only difference is they need additional support to help them succeed. For example, they may deal with stares and judgment from other students.

The school serves as a safe place for all students, including those in special education. Overall, the school integrates special education students into a wide variety of activities in the student body to help them feel included. However, there is potential for growth to further foster a sense of belonging among these students.


About the contributors

Gilina Voon

staff writer

Gilina Voon is a senior at Leland High School and is a writer and photographer for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys traveling, hanging out with friends, and running.

Jane Hong


Jane Hong is a sophomore at Leland High School and is an artist for the Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys listening to K-pop music, dancing, sleeping, and doodling.

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