The Special Education Collaborative has taken definitive steps to improve the delivery of remedial services in SMMUSD. They will work through five distinct and separate phases in forming their recommendations to the School Board.
Martha Duran-Contreas, the District’s leader of the process, told the School Board meeting September 18 that more than 100 stakeholders were interviewed for two days earlier this month to help the School District identify issues it needs to work on. She explained that the Collaborative will be comprised of a Sponsor Group and a Working Group.
Phase I is the development and start-up of the process, while Phase II will be the Working Group deliberations. Phase III is the stakeholder feedback on the Working Group draft recommendations, and Phase IV is the final recommendations to the Superintendent. The last phase will be the submission of the Working Group and the Superintendent’s recommendations to the School Board in February 2009.
The Sponsor Group will provide oversight and guidance to the process, ensure that the District engages key stakeholders, help form the Working Group, and receive and make recommendations to and from the Working Group. The Sponsor Group includes Interim Superintendent Tim Cuneo, the District’s Chief Academic Officer Sally Chou, Director of Special Education Ruth Valadez, and Duran-Contreas.
According to Duran-Contreas’s report to the School Board, the Working Group will be a “small representative stakeholder group who will develop recommendations to the Superintendent.” The Working Group will review the work that has already been done, such as the recent independent audit by Lou Barber & Associates and the Special Education Strategic Plan, and will also be asked to recommend strategies to address the Independent Education Program (IEP) process. An IEP is a plan worked out for each Special Education student to help them meet their educational needs. Other strategies the Working Group will be asked to develop include roles and expectations, capacity-building, and communication.
The next steps in the process will be for the District to immediately implement collaborative training and conflict-resolution training for Special Education staff, to have staff continue to map out the scope of work for the reform process, prepare an initial communications document, form the Working Group, and develop a written Working Group charter. Duran-Contreas said that the Working Group would be formed by the next Board meeting.
Board member Barry Snell commented after the presentation, “It’s exciting to see that we’ve rolled up our sleeves and been able to build a framework to go forward with respect to Special Education.”