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Too many special ed. questions unanswered

Letter to the editor

June 02, 2010 - Dear editor,

The only thing that I have heard is that five to six special education staff members will be eliminated through the budget cuts. But I have yet to see or hear what positions will be cut and what impact it will have on our children.

"It will have no impact on students" won't fly over here and hopefully it will not fly with the readers.

Parents, are you aware that 10 special education staff members are retiring? Do you know who they are and if they are going to be replaced? Are you aware that these retirements could and most likely will cause another shift in the staff?

Case in point: most of you are aware that an ASD classroom is being added at the middle school level. It has been stated that the CI classroom at Scripps Middle School is being moved over to Waldon Middle School and the two Middle School ASD programs will be at Scripps Middle School.

However, did you know that Julie Stucky, Special Education Director, was telling parents that "yes" there will be two classrooms at Waldon, yet she was not stating that it is not the same two CI classrooms, that are currently in place?

The current plan is to combine the two CI classrooms into one and move the SCI classroom from the CERC building to Waldon.

It may have to do with numbers, but what is the big secret? Why can this not be presented to parents, even if it is not finalized?

I thought parent input and involvement was the districts philosophy? According to Julie's recent letter to me "Parents are, and have always been, an integral part of their child's education."

Can someone please explain to me where the heck she is coming from? Does she pick and choose where our input can and can not be an integral part of our child's education?

Secondly, I just recently talked to a couple of parents who sat through their child's IEP and discussed goals with the ancillary staff, who by the way are retiring. Those parents had no idea that the same staff member is not going to be working with their child next year. Only after the IEP did the parents find out through talking with other parents.

Why is the district not telling parents during the meeting? Again, what is the big secret?

Thirdly, I highly recommend that every parent start keeping track of their child's academic progress. Legally, you have a right to request copies of your child's progress monitoring data and the detail to support it.

If you haven't had the pleasure yet, the district is playing a new game. They are basing your child's progress on graphs. As we all know, graphs can be skewed in many ways. Demand to see the supporting data that supports these graphs. I truly believe you will see a much different picture.

Lastly, I stated in a recent letter to Julie, that I was offended by her statement "We (special education staff) know what is best for the student."

Her response was, "Your statement you attribute to me that 'we know what is best for the student,' in isolation, does not sound flattering. In context, however, please understand that we work very closely with all parents to establish a program that meets the needs of their children, and always consider parents' input in this very important process. This statement merely indicates that as educational professionals we possess certain knowledge about pedagogy, disabilities and other related content."

Since when does book smarts and limited time with my child make them an expert?

I don't know about the rest of you parents, but I truly take offence to that statement. Since my son was born, I have done research, attended seminars, have had professional evaluations and dealt with medical professionals who relate to Down syndrome and she has the gull to tell me that she knows what is best. Explain to me why I have to sit in an IEP to hear that they are changing my son's reading program for the fifth time, because they have now found the next latest and greatest program. They already had a reading program that was working great for him and have even written in his IEPs, PLAAFPs, and other forms of communication with me that he does very well with a particular reading program.

Why does the district continually try to fix things that are not broken? How anyone who deals with a multitude of disabilities based on book smarts and limited time with my child thinks they know him better than I do is just down right arrogant.

Why are all the proposed changes to Special Education not publically discussed like the General Education changes? The district's way of dealing with things is: if they don't ask, don't tell them, and if they do ask, tell them as little as you can.

Now, explain to me how that supports their "We encourage parents to be involved in their child's education," philosophy.

I for one will not be brain washed. How about you? The time has definitely come to hold this district accountable and ask them what the budget cuts for special education are and what the impact is going to be!

I am challenging the parents of students in Special Education to step up and be heard publically!

I continually hear from parents who are unhappy with the services their child is receiving and want to know what they should do. Well, my answer is this: start asking questions, hold the administration, Board of Education, Special Education Department accountable, talk to other parents, and attend Board meetings and most of all SPEAK UP!

More often than not I hear "I worry that my child will suffer repocutions for my actions" or "I don't want to rock the boat."

As far as I see it, these are only excuses for not getting involved. As long as the district knows that we are not going to hold them accountable, they will continue to do what they are doing. Therefore, our children will continue to lose.

- Tracy Gora

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