- Associated Press - Thursday, February 12, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - State Superintendent of Education John White says his agency has sent out additional guidance on a new special education law aimed at easing worries that it will run afoul of federal laws.

The measure that has sparked controversy for months is supposed to help some students with disabilities earn a traditional high school diploma.

White tells The Advocate (https://bit.ly/1CirZxs ) on Wednesday that state officials sent local educators new documents Tuesday night, and will host a webinar on Friday, aimed at answering concerns that have muddled a law that was supposed to be in place at the start of the 2014-15 school year.

“The intent of this is to put to rest all of the policy discussions - state legislators, federal bureaucrats, local administrators, all weighing in on their perspective regarding policy,” White said.

“And the policy is complicated but the law is clear,” he said.

The latest documents sent to school districts outline diploma, accountability, assessment, curriculum and policy for students with disabilities, including those affected by the 2014 law.

A task force set up to oversee the law spent four hours last week grappling with problems surrounding the changes.

Critics accused White’s department of failing to provide local educators with crucial guidance, especially amid two letters from federal officials that raised questions about the overhaul.

Department officials countered that they have provided districts with detailed guidance for months.

The panel voted to set up a new panel to try to resolve problems.

The state has about 80,000 special education students.

Louisiana also has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the nation for special education students.

The overhaul allows teachers and parents who advise the students - Individualized Education Program teams, or IEPs - to spell out alternative paths to a high school diploma.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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