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They Really Don't Want Parental Input

If the development of the LAUSD’s plan for providing Special Education services is supposed to be collaborative, why are parents excluded?

By Carl J. PetersenPublished 17 days ago 3 min read

They made it easy, cheaters have their way…

You’re livin’ on your knees.

– Jane’s Addiction

The LAUSD’s Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) Local Plan is a state-mandated document that specifies how the District assures “that it has in effect policies, procedures, and programs governing access to special education and services”. It ensures “a continuum of program options are available to meet the needs of students with disabilities for special education and related services.” The plan, which “is the central document by which…special education programs exist and function,” is reviewed and updated every three years.

In a draft of the updated plan that the District is required to submit to the California Department of Education by June 30th, 2024, the LAUSD falsely checked the box that certifies “the SELPA collaborated with the CAC [Community Advisory Committee] throughout the development, amendment, and review of all Local Plan sections included with this submission”. Instead of allowing the CAC to control the process, the District formed a Local Plan Advisory Committee (LPAC) which included a limited number of CAC members that were chosen randomly. While the District included general updates about the LPAC’s work on CAC agendas, an opportunity to provide ongoing feedback was not provided to committee members.

The draft also states “The Local Plan was submitted to the CAC on: Apr 17, 2024”. While a link to the plan was provided as part of the Division of Special Education’s monthly report at the CAC’s April meeting, there was no explanation or discussion about what was in the document or what changes had been made to the previous version.

Instead of getting input from the CAC, the District provided a link to a Google Form where individual members could provide feedback. However, this task was made impossible by the fact that the document did not indicate in any way how it had been changed. Presenting a markup of the plan clearly showing what had been deleted or added would have allowed community members to ascertain what they needed to comment on quickly. Without having access to tracked changes, they would have had to compare the 191-page document line by line to its predecessor to provide informed feedback.

Realizing the value of the full committee discussing the plan so they could work collaboratively to make suggestions, the CAC’s elected leadership requested that the District add a discussion of the Local Plan to the agenda for its May meeting. To ensure there was enough time for this conversation, they also asked that the meeting time be extended to three hours.

Without warning the leadership, the District staff left the item off the agenda for last Wednesday’s meeting. When confronted during the meeting about this failure to include the item, staff claimed that they misunderstood the request. The officer I spoke with insisted that there had been a thorough discussion and leadership’s instructions were clear.

Using parliamentary procedures, the committee was able to add the item to its agenda with a unanimous vote. However, doing so took valuable time. This combined with the lack of clarity about what had been changed left little time for actual discussion. Of the seven sections presented, only two were discussed before the meeting had to be suspended because time ran out. A request was made for the District to schedule a resumption of the meeting, but as of today, they had not done so.

It is important to remember that the California Education Code (Section 56194) requires every SELPA to establish a CAC. It is “designed in legislative spirit and intent to establish a local forum for active parent involvement”. This includes the legislative mandate to be “involved in the development of the local plan for Special Education.” Actively preventing the CAC from discussing changes to the local plan is not only excluding parental input, it is breaking the law.

_________

Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for public education, particularly for students with special education needs, who serves as the Education Chair for the Northridge East Neighborhood Council. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him “a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles.” For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.

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About the Creator

Carl J. Petersen

Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with SpEd needs and public education. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Opinions are his own.

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Comments (1)

  • Esala Gunathilake17 days ago

    Well deserved.

Carl J. PetersenWritten by Carl J. Petersen

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