LOS ANGELES (April 10, 2018) - After a special education update on autism that emphasized awareness, acceptance and empowerment, the Los Angeles Board of Education today unanimously approved a resolution recognizing April as National Autism Month.
"Many students on the autism spectrum are twice exceptional, intellectually and creatively," said Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. "L.A. Unified remains committed to helping all students reach their full potential.”
One of every 110 children in the United States is diagnosed on the autism spectrum. In L.A. Unified, nearly 14,000 students have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, representing more than 19 percent of students with disabilities in the District. These and other students with special needs are eligible for instruction from ages three to 22, under state law, which includes help to progress from high school to post-secondary life.
“We raise awareness for the success of every child,” Board President Mόnica García said. “One hundred percent graduation in L.A. Unified includes every family in every neighborhood.”
Board Vice President Nick Melvoin said, “As we work to increase awareness for autism disorders within L.A. Unified, I was happy also to recognize leadership, parents and students from the Twice Exceptional program at Portola Middle School, which is providing an innovative and supportive education to our gifted and autistic kids.”
Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic said, “I am pleased to be the sponsor of the autism awareness resolution, as I believe we have a duty on an annual and daily basis to demonstrate the responsibilities we have to students with autism and their families and that we are doing all we can to give them the education they deserve.”
Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez said, “I am extremely honored to cosponsor this resolution, because it is not only about ensuring awareness but also about celebrating the amazing things our young people are doing every day, despite the obstacles. I am proud of our students who are beating the odds and achieving greatness.”
Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson said, “I am proud to co-sponsor this recognition, and I invite the entire L.A. Unified family to celebrate and help raise awareness about the community of students and others with autism and the unique characteristics and contributions that they bring to the composition of our District.”
Board Member Kelly Gonez, who also co-sponsored the resolution said, “Our students with autism bring so much to our schools and to our communities. At L.A. Unified, we are committed to their success, and that means meeting our students' unique needs and building on their assets. I’m proud of our relentless pursuit of high-quality options for our students with autism as well as our commitment to inclusion.”
Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III, added, “Every child deserves the best education possible at L.A. Unified, and that certainly includes students with autism or other special needs.”
The measure recognized the Division of Special Education for providing services, transition programs and support to all students with special needs.
The resolution also directed the superintendent “to ensure all proper activities are undertaken to promote autism awareness and education throughout the District.”
Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766