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Sent home early: Lost learning in special education

Sarah Butrymowicz, The Hechinger Report |

This year, millions of students have had their schooling curtailed, prompting serious discussions about the effects of lost learning time. But a subset of students in special education has been quietly plagued with this problem for decades, often with devastating consequences. Shortening the school day for students with disabilities as punishment for their behavior is illegal, experts say. Instead, schools must support and address these issues in the classroom.

For the most part, however, schools are not required to justify their decisions to send students home early, nor is any significant data collected on this practice, allowing the problem to remain largely hidden. For many students, a shortened school day can last for months or even years, which can have a disastrous impact as they miss out on crucial academic, social and emotional learning time.

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