Comments re: SCUSD school re-opening, special ed. evaluations and common assessments

Advocacy
Image: A full house at a previous Sacramento USD Board of Education Meeting. Rows are full of people.

Tonight (Feb 18, 2021) Sacramento City USD Board of Ed meets. On the agenda are conditions of readiness for re-opening schools and Assessment (special education assessments and district-wide common assessment). The following are written comments submitted by the Coalition co-organizers to the Board.

Coalition for Students with Disabilities, Public Comments for SCUSD Board Meeting February 18, 2021

Dear Superintendent Aguilar, Board President Pritchett, Vice President Murawski, and Members of the Board:

Comments on Item # 7.4 Update on the Adopted Conditions of Readiness for the Re-opening of School (Various Departments):

Re-opening of schools is critical – a plan is needed right now! Students with disabilities are struggling in distance learning and being denied services or educational evaluations that they are entitled to by law. The Coalition heard from 34 SCUSD parents or guardians of students with IEPs and 504 plans, from across various types of schools (including public, charter, and nonpublic), classroom settings (including general ed, inclusive/combo classes, and SDC), ethnicities, grade levels, from 14 school sites (including elementary, middle and high schools). While some parents reported their children are doing well, the majority say their children with disabilities are suffering and falling through the cracks while trying to learn remotely.

– Not receiving special ed. services to which they are entitled (70.6%) – Special ed. services not well suited to the child’s needs (91%)
– Lack of adequate support from 1:1 aides and/or nurses (70.6%)
– 1:1 aides or nurses not allowed to help the child 1:1 in the home (91.2%)
– Transition plans for children 16+ years are due but have not been developed (57.1%)
– Existing transition plans not implemented appropriately (42.9%)- Educationally-related mental health services (EHRMS) not implemented appropriately (70%)
– Children developing new mental health issues but not receiving any support (80%).
– Children regressing in learning and behavior (50%)
– No sufficient communications from IEP team addressing child’s services (38.2%)
– No communication from teacher (5.9%)
– No communication from SCUSD about additional school resources that support their children with a disability (76%)
– Parents had to opt out of SCUSD due to the inconsistency of class schedules due to the lack of agreement with SCUSD and SCTA on a distance learning plan
– Issues with several children in one home having to share one device and not all children received a device from their child’s school (35%)
– Slow internet speeds making it difficult for students to follow along- Inequitable access to recorded video lessons (wide variance in frequency and length of lessons)

SCUSD families of children with disabilities are desperate. We know that there are qualified contractors who are willing to serve or evaluate students with disabilities either in person or in virtual environments, but this District has decided to withhold these services because the district’s staff who might ordinarily provide the services don’t have a distance MOU in place or are unwilling to provide the services. Hear us now! Political strife is not a permissible reason to deny a student with disabilities the services that they are entitled to. Not only is it illegal, it is immoral.

Signed,
Angel Garcia,
Angie Sutherland,
Grace Trujillo,
Sarah Williams Kingsley, and
Renee Webster Hawkins

Comments on Item # 7.5 Update on Assessments (Christine Baeta and Raoul Bozio)

1. Assessment for Special Education:

The District was found to be out of compliance by CDE for not providing students with assessments in the legally mandated time frame. CDE gave the district a list of items to be fixed and deadlines. So far, it appears the district has not met the timelines to put together a schedule to meet student needs and submit it to CDE, nor have they trained relevant staff as required. It also appears they haven’t informed parents of affected students of the timeline or their rights to compensatory education. What HAVE they done to respond in a timely manner to meet CDE deadlines? It is an abdication of responsibility to continue to fail students because SCTA refuses to do the work AND is attempting to keep the district from hiring outside providers to service students instead. They shouldn’t be allowed to stand in the way of the district meeting their legal obligations to serve students. The Coalition has been advocating on this issue since October. We are also concerned that the district did not consult the CAC, the mandated advisory body for special education, on this issue and insists they air this issue at a board meeting first. This violates the legislative intent purpose of the CAC that exists to advise the governing board. How can the CAC advise the board in this manner?

2. Common Assessments

The presentation is frustrating — these two items deserve their own time and space for discussion and public comment. The data presented don’t tell us how many students who were assessed met or exceeded expectations — “answers correct” is not an adequate replacement. It’s clear that yet again, common assessments are not common enough to be useful for our BIPOC students. While the arbitrator ruled that SCUSD must bargain this issue with SCTA, SCTA is yet again refusing to meet, thus standing in the way of adequately serving students.

Signed,

Angel Garcia,
Angie Sutherland,
Grace Trujillo, and
Renee Webster Hawkins

Board Website: https://www.scusd.edu/boe021821