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woman with boy using a mobility device, holding handsMassachusetts General Law sets apart May 23rd as “Special Needs Awareness Day.” Accordingly, Governor Baker has issued a Proclamation for Special Needs Awareness Day, 2016. The Proclamation reads:

A Proclamation

Whereas The term “special needs” is used in the context of elementary and secondary education, to refer to school-aged children and young adults who have individualized needs resulting from various disabilities; and

Whereas “Special education shall mean specifically designed instruction to meet the unique needs of the eligible student or related services necessary to access the general curriculum and shall include the programs and services set forth in state and federal special education law”; and

Whereas Students with disabilities may be eligible for Special Education under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); and

Whereas To be considered for Special Education services under IDEA, a student must have one or more of the impairments listed in 603 Code of Massachusetts Regulations 28.00: Special Education. These impairments include: autism, developmental delay, intellectual impairment, sensory impairment, neurological impairment, emotional impairment, communication impairment, physical impairment, health impairment, or specific learning disability; and

Whereas An eligible student “shall mean a person aged three through 21 who has not attained a high school diploma or its equivalent, who has been determined by a Team to have a disability(ies), and as a consequence is unable to progress effectively in the general education program without specially designed instruction or is unable to access the general curriculum without a related service”; and

Whereas IDEA requires that students be placed in the least restrictive environment; and

Whereas Federal government statistics released in 2012 place the prevalence of children and youth receiving special education services at about 13% of all public school students; and

Whereas It is in the public interest to promote an environment of acceptance, inclusion and respect to assure equal participation and maximum opportunities for children and young adults with special needs.

Now, Therefore, I, Charles D. Baker, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, do hereby proclaim May 23rd, 2016, to be

Special Needs Awareness Day

And urge all the citizens of the Commonwealth to take cognizance of this event and participate fittingly in its observance.

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