STOP the Los Angeles Unified School District from Closing Special Education Schools

| October 15, 2013 | Reply

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The LAUSD is Violating Federal Law,
Lying About Its Actions
and
Harming Disabled Students

What Are Special Education Schools?

Special education schools are dedicated exclusively to serve a small percentage of disabled students who have highly intensive needs. These students have severe difficulties with learning,sensory, orthopedic, medical needs, behavior issues, safety awareness and more.Special schools provide for their needs in a comprehensive, safe setting with trained staff. Children attend special schools because IEP teams, consisting of knowledgeable school staff and parents, have determined that the nature or severity of their disabilities does not allow them to be educated satisfactorily in regular schools. In a safe setting with dedicated, trained staff, they thrive! They can learn what they need to learn! They can be cheerleaders, attend school proms and social events, be on sports teams, and participate in activities appropriate to their abilities, needs and interests.

Don’t Believe the LAUSD’s Lies!

LIE #1: LAUSD falsely claims it is not closing special education schools.

FACTS: In the past few years, LAUSD has closed four special education schools and converted four others to Career Training Centers. This represents a closure of half of the special schools.

Pacific Blvd. School was closed in 2005, immediately following the installation of an adapted playground for its orthopedically handicapped students.

Sellery and West Valley Schools for severely disabled students were closed in 2009.

Frances Blend School for blind students was removed in July 2013 from the LAUSD Guide to Schools and Offices, with no public hearing and no notification to parents, staff and community. Decisions were made in secret and still have not been made public.

Widney, Miller, Willenberg, and Perez Schools, formerly comprehensive special schools
serving severely disabled students through high school, have been converted to Career Training Centers for mildly disabled students ages 18-22, thus closing enrollment to middle school and senior high aged students with severe disabilities.

Banneker, McBride, Salvin, Lowman, Lull, Leichman, Lanterman, Lokrantz, and Marlton
Schools have all had their enrollments slashed by the LAUSD and critical resources removed. Lanterman, McBride and Lull have had whole classrooms moved to general education schools, often without parents knowledge. The LAUSD is aggressively working to close these schools.

LIE #2: The Districtfalsely claims it is transferring students out of special schools to comply witha federal law to educate disabled students with non-disabled students.

FACTS: Federal law requires special schools for students who need them. All school districts are required to maintain a Continuum of Alternative Placements for disabled students. This includes special schools.

Federal law requires disabled students to be educated with non-disabled students to the
maximum extent appropriate.What is “appropriate” must be determined individually through
assessment and by an IEP Team(Individualized Education Planning Team) consisting of parents, teachers and other relevant specialists as equal participants.

Federal law provides for special classes as well as special schools if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in the regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. Only 2.6% of students with disabilities currently attend special schools.

The State of California has132 public special schools. Only those in the LAUSD are closing.

LIE #3: The District also claims it is doing this to comply with a court order called the
Modified Consent Decree.

FACTS: The Modified Consent Decree states “The parties agree that special education centers are part of the continuum of program options for a full continuum of special education and related services in the least restrictive environment.”

LIE #4: The District is falsely attributing the closure of some schools to “low enrollment.”

FACTS: Low enrollment has been artificially created by the District. The LAUSD:
‣ No longer allows pre-school classes in special schools.
‣ Refuses to inform parents of the option of special schools.
‣ Refuses to allow any new students to enroll at special schools.
‣ Is arbitrarily removing targeted groups of students, such as pre-schoolers, elementary or
middle school students.
‣ Has closed all classes of non-disabled students who previously attended special schools for
integration purposes.

LIE #5: The District falsely claims these placement decisions are being made by IEP Teams, in accordance with federal law.

FACTS: The LAUSD is violating parents’ rights by making arbitrary placement decisions:
‣ Parents are not being included in these decisions.
‣ Placement decisions are being made by the Division of Special Education prior to IEP
meetings, an unlawful practice.
‣ IEP amendments to change placement have been held by telephone with parents not
understanding their rights.
‣ To achieve this massive transfer of students, IEP amendments are being rushed through
with parents not being allowed to disagree. This runs completely contrary to federal laws
relative to the IEP process.

LIE #6: The District falsely claims that special schools are “segregated.”

FACTS: Specialization for a beneficial purpose is not segregation.

Parents choose to have their children in special schools. There are many kinds of special schools in LAUSD,each of which represents a choice for students who may need these schools.

LAUSD operates seven types of options schools, each serving a different type of student. These are campuses with low student/teacher ratios offering instruction to students who are deemed at risk of not completing their education.

Included are continuation schools, schools for pregnant minors, opportunity schools, alternative schools and community day schools. In addition there are magnet schools for gifted students, skill centers, and a variety of other schools which represent options for students and their parents.

ONLY SPECIAL SCHOOLS FOR SEVERELY DISABLED STUDENTS ARE BEING
LABELED “SEGREGATED” AND ARE BEING CLOSED UNDER THE GUISE OF
“INTEGRATION.”

Lie #7: LAUSD claims it is “integrating” special education students.

FACTS: The opposite is true. These students are becoming much more isolated. The four schools that have been converted to Career Training Centers for mildly disabled students (ages 18-22) have no interaction with the non-disabled students.

While closing special schools, the LAUSD has dramatically increased the percentage of special needs students in non-public schools. These are privately owned schools, funded by taxpayers. Students are sent there when the district does not have an appropriate placement. Non public schools have no interaction with non-disabled students.

Non public school placement(at taxpayer expense) has increased by 50% in the past few years while public special school placement has been reduced to less than half.

Classes of students who have been moved from special schools to general education sites are totally isolated with little or no interaction with non-disabled students and are unable to participate in academic, elective or extra-curricular activities.

LIE #8: LAUSD falsely states that “Research supports that both individuals with disabilities and their non-disabled peers achieve improved outcomes when they are educated together.”

FACTS: LAUSD has failed to provide any such research.

“Educational benefit”has been ruled to be a necessity by the courts.

Innumerable studies have shown a lack of improvement of educational outcomes when severely disabled students are educated with non-disabled students. Improvement has been shown in the area of acceptance but not educational outcomes..

Blind and deaf students are very successful in general education classes after they acquire specialized and access skills. These skills have been carefully taught in a comprehensive setting such as Frances Blend School for the Blind and Marlton School for the Deaf.

Severely handicapped students, when in a “fully included” classroom, do not receive instruction at their level or to meet their assessed needs.

LIE #9: LAUSD falsely claims that all services provided in a special school will be
provided on a general education campus.

FACTS: This is impossible from both a safety and educational viewpoint.

Providing a 1:1 aide who does not know braille for a blind student is vastly inferior to a
classroom with a teacher skilled in braille and in techniques to teach the blind.

Itinerant specialist teachers,who travel from school to school, have an average caseload of over 20 students.They cannot possibly provide enough time to meet IEP goals and assessed needs.As itinerant teachers have retired, their positions have not been filled.

Severely handicapped students are not allowed to “shine” or be celebrated on general education campuses,the way they are at the special schools, where they can participate in intramural sports, perform at school assemblies designed for their needs and interests, or participate in a host of other school activities tailored for their needs. In a special school, classrooms have kitchen areas and adjoining bathrooms for students who need to learn health and personal care skills.

Safety for medically fragile students and students with limited safety awareness is a very serious issue for students on a general education campus.

For disabled students who can thrive and be successful in a traditional school setting, a general education campus is appropriate and desirable. For students with intensive needs that a regular campus cannot meet, our dedicated special schools are best, and should be celebrated as a beneficial option.

PLEASE JOIN US IN THE STRUGGLE TO SAVE OUR DEDICATED SPECIAL
EDUCATION SCHOOLS AND TO IMPROVE ALL SPECIAL EDUCATION IN
LOS ANGELES.

STOP LAUSD FROM VIOLATING FEDERAL LAW.

For further information, please contact us or attend a meeting!

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