To improve the delivery of much-needed Special Ed. Services, the SMMUSd has formed a Special Education Collaborative.
This Collaborative will soon be comprised of both a Sponsor Group and a Working Group. The Sponsor Group has already been formed and has begun their work, which includes helping to form the Working Group and receiving and making recommendations to and from that group.
The District leader for the process, Martha Duran-Contreas, recently discussed the Sponsor Group-developed criteria for membership in the Working Group. According to Duran-Contreas, the Working Group will “review, integrate and prioritize special education goals, strategies, and deliverables currently embedded in disparate documents,” including the report from an independent consultant earlier this year (Lou Barber and Associates), and the earlier strategic planning documents. They will then submit their recommendations to the Superintendent.
Once formed, the Working Group will have 16 members, eight from the District’s staff and eight from the community. The District members may include principals, psychologists, Special Education teachers, speech and language specialists, instructional aides, and general education teachers. Community members may include members from the District’s before and after school program (CREST), Board of Education members, Special Education parents, General Education parents, and community members. During their discussion of the Working Group membership criteria, the Board as a whole expressed to the Superintendent and Duran-Contreas that it would not be beneficial to have a Board member as a member of the Working Group. Board member Barry Snell noted, “We as a Board will be here criticizing what is going on with the Working Group process” so it wouldn’t be appropriate to have a Board member be part of the Working Group process.
Board member Jose Escarce predicted other problems. To him, a Working Group Board member could be viewed as representing the Board’s views to the Working Group, or a Working Group Board member could be viewed as having more influence than other Board members.
Board Member Ralph Mechur suggested having the Working Group decide if having a Board member on it would be appropriate, while Board member Kathy Wisnicki recommended having a Board member liaison be a member of the Working Group.
In early November, the Superintendent will convene a Selection Committee composed of the Sponsor Group (or their representatives) from the Special Education District Advisory Committee, and the PTA – Special Ed Committee. The Selection Committee will make their recommendations for the Working Group membership by November 7. The Superintendent will then appoint the Working Group members in time for the their first meeting with the Sponsor Group, scheduled for mid-November.
The Collaborative will be working through five phases in order to form their recommendations for the Special program. Phase I is the development and start-up of the process. Phase II is the Working Group deliberations. Phase III is stakeholder feedback on the Working Group draft recommendations. Phase IV is the final recommendation to the Superintendent. The fifth and final phase will be the submission of the Working Group, and the Superintendent’s recommendations to the Board in February 2009.
Those who wish to give input on the criteria can due so by contacting the project leader at [email protected] or by calling 310.450.8338 ext. 282 no later than Friday, October 17.
The same contact information can be used to request an application starting on October 20. Applications can also be picked up at the District’s Santa Monica headquarters at 1651 16th Street or downloaded from the District website. All applications are due by October 30.