January 20, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Community Speaks on Special Ed Criteria:

The criteria for the formation of the Working Group that will be part of the School District’s Special Education Collaborative was the subject of discussion once again at the Board of Education’s most recent meeting.

Controversy arose as to how many Special Education parents should be part of the Working Group. When the topic was discussed on October 2, the Board of Education seemed comfortable with the criteria recommended by the Collaborative’s Sponsor Group, which was to have eight of the 16-member group be chosen from the community, and the other eight from the District’s staff. The Collaborative will be responsible for making recommendations to the District on how to improve its delivery of Special Education services.

At that time, it was specified that community members could be from the District’s before- and after-school program (CREST), Board of Education members, Special Education parents, General Education parents, community members, and others as needed. No specific numbers were recommended on how many community members should be chosen from any one category.

However, at the October 16 meeting the Board heard a different opinion from the community. Special Education parent Steve Burnett summed up the sentiment of the community speakers when he stated, “It’s important and appropriate that the community members of the Working Group be heavily weighted towards the parents of special needs kids” because they have the best perspective on what changes are needed to meet the needs of these children.

Special Education parent Debra Shepard also called for the group to contain “a diverse group of individuals that represent the social, economic, and ethnic diversity that exists in our District” and urged that the group include representatives from families that have both General Education and Special Education students “to give information of the effects of Special Education on a family as a whole.”

The Board responded by recommending that: a) the majority of the Working Group consist of Special Education parents, b) the number of members of the Working Group be flexible, and c) the Director of Special Education debarred from being a part of the selection committee.

As previously reported in the Mirror (October 15 – 22), in early November, the Superintendent will convene a Selection Committee composed of the Sponsor Group (or its representatives) from the Special Education District Advisory Committee and the PTA – Special Education Committee. The Selection Committee will make its recommendations for the Working Group membership by November 7. The Superintendent will appoint the Working Group members in time for their first meeting with the Sponsor Group by mid-November.

Applications for the Working Group can be obtained by contacting the project leader at duran-contreas@smmusd.org or by calling 310.450.8338 ext. 282. Applications can also be picked up at the District’s Santa Monica headquarters (1651 16th Street) or downloaded from the District website, smmusd.org. All applications are due by October 30.

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