"I absolutely think it's a problem relative to special education," board President Gary Eberhart said Monday.

"This is something that I've been screaming about for 13 or 14 years."

Trustees on Tuesday will discuss the high number of black and Latino students in the district who are "overly represented" in special education and "disproportionately" suspended or expelled.

Mt. Diablo was among 85 districts identified by the state in June as being disproportionate in these areas.

The district has established an "Equity Advisory Team" including the Concord police chief and teachers' union president, and is working with a consultant provided by the state to examine school climate and student achievement goals, with the intent of adopting new policies to reverse current trends.

Trustees will review two draft policies aimed at "creating a cadre of culturally competent educators and administrators" to serve diverse students by providing academic, emotional and social supports needed to increase the achievement of underperforming groups.

Eberhart said he wants more information regarding suspensions and expulsions to see if students from various ethnic backgrounds are treated differently for similar infractions.

If the district is identified as "significantly disproportionate," it could be forced to devote 15 percent of its special education budget to fixing the problem, Assistant Superintendent Mildred Browne said at a special education Community Advisory Committee meeting this month.

IF YOU GO
The Mt. Diablo school board will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the district office, 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord. Information is available by calling 925-682-8000 ext. 4010 or by going to http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us. Click on April 19 study session.