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Special education policies in Mass. reviewed

Contrary to belief, poor districts more likely to use program

Low-income school districts are most likely to place students in special education programs for mild and sometimes questionable disabilities, a practice that has swelled the state’s special education population to one of the highest rates in the nation, according to a first-of-a-kind study commissioned by the state.

The study - to be presented at a state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting Monday night - is expected to provoke debate over whether low-income districts are placing students in special education because of legitimate disabilities or because of weak academic programs that cause students to fall behind, or because some teachers want unruly students out of their classrooms.

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