Agency to study special education

The state Department of Education announced Wednesday that it would hire an independent consultant to study special-education students who fail the high school exit exam but otherwise meet graduation requirements, according to a lawsuit settlement tentatively approved by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman.

The study will determine whether such students have mastered the English and math skills tested in the exam, but are unable to demonstrate their proficiency because of their disabilities, according to the settlement.

If that is the case, the consultant will propose alternative methods of testing this knowledge.

The settlement, which could receive final approval at a hearing May 30, stems from a 2002 lawsuit alleging that the exam is unfair and discriminatory against special-education students.

-- Seema Mehta

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