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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #19-47
June 21, 2019
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Congratulates Winner of Special Education Learning Award

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today congratulated the Trabuco Hills High School Unified Champion School Program in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District for winning the 2019 Grazer Outstanding Achievement in Learning (GOAL) award. This award is given annually by the California Advisory Commission on Special Education (ACSE), recognizing an outstanding program that serves students with disabilities.

Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools provide students with and without disabilities opportunities for peer-to-peer engagement through sports and leadership programs.

“The inclusion practices initiated through this program provide a tremendous benefit to not only the students participating, but the entire school community,” said Thurmond. “When students with and without disabilities are provided authentic opportunities to learn and play together, this creates a climate where inclusion is the norm and diversity is honored.”

Trabuco Hills High School became a Unified Champion School in 2016, and was the first school of its kind in Orange County. In 2017, it was the first school in Southern California to offer Unified Physical Education. The school’s goal has been to expand into one additional department per year. To date, the school has expanded Unified programming into drama, physical education, video production, band, art, ceramics, cheer, varsity sports, student leadership, curricular and noncurricular clubs.

The components of the Unified Champion Schools program include Whole School Engagement, Inclusive Youth Leadership, and Inclusive Unified Sports. The exemplary strategies used by the school to implement the program elements have made the school a model that other districts in Southern California have chosen to follow.

Building on the school’s success, in 2018 the district became the first Unified Champion School district in Orange County with the development of nine additional Unified Champion School programs. For the 2019-2020 school year, the district plans to have 30 percent of its campuses participating.

The Special Olympics of Southern California provided funding for the first three years. Through fund-raising efforts supported by the school community and district, the school’s Unified Champion Program has become self-sustaining and continues to grow. Tom Adams, Deputy Superintendent with the California Department of Education and Kristin Wright, Director of the Special Education Division, presented the GOAL award to representatives from Trabuco Hills High School during the June 20 ACSE meeting in Sacramento.

The GOAL award was established in the 2005–06 school year and funded by Hollywood producer Brian Grazer’s family to recognize exemplary practices in special education and to celebrate programs that serve California youth with disabilities along with the professionals who provide them.

For more information, visit the CDE’s GOAL Award web page.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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