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School sorry for making special ed kids sort trash

Wednesday - 8/20/2014, 5:49pm  ET

JURUPA VALLEY, Calif. (AP) -- A Southern California school district has apologized to parents of special education students who were outraged to learn their children had been sorting trash as a school activity.

Jurupa Unified Superintendent Elliot Duchon made the apology at a heated meeting Monday night. He also said the activity -- which was part of a functional skills program at Patriot High School to teach students general life skills like budgeting and purchasing groceries -- had been suspended, the Press-Enterprise reported Wednesday (http://bit.ly/XAQpTI ).

Angry parents sounded off over the program that had special education students sort through campus trash bins for recyclables. They said it was humiliating and exposed the children to germs.

"It is disgusting," said Carmen Wells, who complained after learning her autistic son was digging through trash on his first day as a high school freshman.

Duchon said the district is reviewing the functional skills program. He said no complaints had been received about the activity, which is a standard part of the curriculum, until last week.

School board member Brian Schafer, who is the parent of a former special education student, said he understood why parents were upset.

"Digging through trash is not a life skill," Schafer said. "It's unhealthy."


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