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Pleasanton schoool district revises plan for special education students

Original post made on Aug 23, 2012

The Pleasanton school district decided Tuesday night to look at providing better services for special needs children -- and save itself some money in the bargain.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 23, 2012, 3:26 PM

Comments

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Posted by very confusing
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm

I am confused

"By offering compliance training and professional development for teachers and administrators as recommended by the consultants, the district hopes to cut down on settlements and legal bills, and keep more students home instead of sending them elsewhere." Huh, home?

"Let's be clear that our goal is to exit students from special education services," Ahmadi said. "It's best for students to be in general education. Sometimes when they go into special education they have special needs, but our goal is to exit them."

Sounds like the Ahmadi plan is to have special education students kept at home? What, homeschool them? Then they are put in general education?

Huh?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

There are some cases of a district not being able to provide necessary services. In those cases, a child can be placed in a private school, sometimes not even in California. The home district is required to pay for those services, which can be much more than what the district receives in per student funding. Districts will often hire legal counsel to keep the student in the district ($30,000 a year for many years can be worth the cost of attorneys).

I believe the superintendent means the goal is to keep special needs students within the district and in a regular classroom (mainstreaming) and not literally at home.


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm

What happens to students who can't be mainstreamed? Some special needs students may be better off in separate classes.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 23, 2012 at 10:46 pm

As a parent of a special education student, this article terrifies me. It is terrible when a school district throws it's students and families under the bus in the name of (supposedly) saving dollars. All it does is pit parents against parents. I have lived in other states where inclusion into general ed is done with one to one aides and small class sizes in a general education setting. Pleasanton is not willing to do this. They do not see that investing in our population now decreases our kids dependence as adults. Autism numbers are now 1 in 54 boys. Many of these children can be independent, succesful adults with proper support NOW. Shame on you Pleasanton. This is purely about budgets. By the way, how much money did you spend on your consultant to (ineffectively) pass the tax increase. Or, how much did that glossy flier about the bus system cost. I'm sure it was a lot more than what it costs to educate my sped kid. Oh, and for those that don't know, they get Federal Funding for every Sped student.


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Posted by very confusing
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm

"Let's be clear that our goal is to exit students from special education services," Ahmadi said.

I agree with Castlewood's anonymous. Scary, isn't it? The district does not want to place children in the least restrictive environment in a regular classroom with a classroom aide. They actually want to pretend that a children's disabilities don't exist and then 'exit students from special education services.'

How many more special needs Pleasanton youths will commit suicide?

Not only will PUSD receive little to no Federal funding for special education, they'll be sued right and left over their leader's stated goal, which is to not provide special education services. Great that the PUSD superintendent stated that in a public meeting with the cameras rolling. Brilliant approach. I'm sure that quote alone will make it into several lawsuits.

With that approach, I expect the legal bills will increase from $200,000 to $2 million by next year. And the next year if a class action lawsuit was filed like in San Ramon $20 million.


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Posted by P'town Momma
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 1:01 am

Ok, so I wasn't the only to catch that ridiculous statement by Ahmadi! The goal should be to educate special needs kids in the least restrictive environment, in which they can learn and flourish! My son has special needs and now I see why I have to fight tooth and nail to get services for him.
On another point, how can Brown pass a budget based on the assumption that the Props are going to pass? That would be like me planning my home budget on the assumption that my husband is going to get a 20% pay raise when it's more likely to be 3% if anything at all. If I recall correctly, Californians were unable to pass a cigarette tax a few months back. If that initiative couldn't pass, what makes him think any tax initiative will pas.
Hey Jerry, instead of spending billions to build a train to nowhere, why don't you fund education instead!


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 24, 2012 at 7:19 am

Inclusion can be a great thing, when done with the needs of kids in mind. The inclusion proposed by Ahmadi is simply to "cut costs". How are our already stretched teachers supposed to include special education kids into their classroom without smaller classes or lots more support? This scenario will be unsuccessful for ALL children- how can typical kids not be affected by a teacher that has to spend extra time with sped kids? It's also too much to ask of our teachers.
And, there are some wonderful special ed kids that have the ability to learn, but not in an overcrowded, underfunded school. Pleasanton has been unwilling to give aides ans support to kids to mainstream them in elementary school since I have lived here. Oh, and the OT fees are because they have been contracting out services rather than having OTs that are their own employees.
I agree that the legal fees are going to increase tremendously if they decide to go forward with this penny-wise and pound foolish plan.


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Posted by Nancy s.
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 8:13 am

I believe she means "at home" by keeping the kids in PUSD and not shipping them out of town to a school or even out of state to a boarding (wilderness) facility. I believe working with special needs kids early and trying to get them to be able to mainstream somewhat to entirely is in the childs best interest to enable the child to become self sufficent. Otherwise, what will happen to these children when their parents are dead and gone?


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Posted by Lee
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 8:23 am

After having a kid in the PUSD for 4 years, to all the special ed. parents, I urge you to spend the money on a good education attorney. Once the district knows you have one, they offer a lot more goodies to your student. When you don't, they try hard not to offer services.

It's all money to the administration, and you want them to spend it on YOUR KID!!


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 8:31 am

This is illegal.


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Posted by shannon
a resident of Stoneridge Orchards
on Aug 24, 2012 at 9:07 am

I urge each parent out there with a special needs student to write or eamil the Superintendant. She needs to hear from parents. I just
sent my email to : pahmadi@pleasanton.k12.ca.us
I have three children and two of them with special needs, what happened to "No child left behind"


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Posted by well
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 10:04 am

I have two kids who are doing well at school and they are facing shorter school days and bigger class sizes and fewer offerings. There is a budget crisis and it affects everyone. Should I sue too as my children are getting a worse education too? Do you really think that will make things better?

The entitlement mentality is in full steam mode.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 24, 2012 at 10:17 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

If Superintendent Ahmadi is quoted accurately, it is unfortunate she didn't choose her words more carefully.

However, there is a new buzz word from the state, disproportionality. Several districts have been called out for potential over identification of minorities for special education services. Perhaps, this is the district's way of addressing the pressure from the state.

It seems some education about addressing the public may be in order with the end of school year blunder on announcing split reading and now in addressing of those students needing additional guidance. The apparent lack of sensitivity here is a surprise given Ahmadi's background from the curriculum side of the house.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Aug 24, 2012 at 10:19 am

While I'm not against support for special needs children, I really have to wonder about the amount of resources already being devoted to special needs children. I have a daughter who just finished 1st grade at Lydiksen Elementary. In looking through her school yearbook, I see a lot classes with large numbers of students (30 or so students?). But then among these classes with 30 or so students per teacher I see some classes at each grade level in which there are just 10 or so students with 3 teachers! So that's, what, about a 3-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio? I'm guessing that these are classes for special needs students.

So while special needs students are apparently enjoying a student-to-teacher ratio of around 3-to-1, my daughter as well as the vast majority of Lydiksen students are stuck in classes with student-to-teacher ratios closer to 30-to-1. In all this talk about special needs children, I think that it has to be remembered that in this time of tight budget constraints that any additional resources given to special needs student are resources taken away from other students - and those students (which form the majority of the student body) are already functioning on very limited resources.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 24, 2012 at 10:29 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sam, I don't disagree that addressing the needs of students with a variety of challenges is expensive and worth a close look to see if students are over identified or over served. I would suggest you see if you can visit a special day class (or talk to a special education teacher) so you can see first hand that some of the students cases are extreme and that the teachers and aides helping these students are doing some of the most difficult work in the district.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Aug 24, 2012 at 11:48 am

Kathleen, I don't doubt your word that some of the special student cases are extreme and that working with those students is some of the most difficult work in the district. But the bottom line is that from my very rough estimate of the teacher resources being devoted to special needs students from my very unscientific scan of my daughter's school yearbook, I'm coming up with the astounding estimate that about 42% of Lydiksen's teacher resources are being allocated to the needs of less than 10% of the school's students. What about the other 90% of the students? I hope that you and others are giving at least as much thought to their education as you are to the education of special needs students.

(P.S.: I arrived at my estimate by noting that there are approximately four "regular" classes of about 30 students each for every "special needs" class with about 10 students. That means about 8% of the student body is in special needs classes. Staffing these five classes (4 "regular", and one "special needs") requires a total of 7 teachers, one each for the "regular classes", and 3 for the "special needs" class. So that means that 42% of the teachers are assigned to "special needs" classes. Again, this is a very rough estimate, but the fact that "special needs" education is consuming an enormous amount of available resources is undeniable.)


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 11:58 am

My own concern is that the district decides to spend so much of my money on 'special needs' kids. In Texas, we're rugged individualists and if parents have kids with special needs they should take care of them themselves. If they can't take care of them, well, that's what 'survival of the fittest' is all about. Maybe we'd have a better society if our tax money wasn't going to all the "needy" ones in our mist. Individuals should learn how to take care of themselves. Otherwise, it's Big Brother telling us what to do.


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Posted by very confusing
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm

The Ahmadi plan is such a brilliant, well thought plan:

A child has been in a car accident and has a traumatic brain injury and can no longer speak well or write. The Ahmadi Solution - exit student from special education services.

A child with Down syndrome needs assistance with learning and functioning in school. The Ahmadi Solution - exit student from special education services.

A wheelchair bound child has difficulty with writing. The Ahmadi Solution - exit student from special education services.

A child who is deaf needs assistance with learning and asks the teachers to use a microphone and needs a note taker to assist in learning what the teacher says in class. The Ahmadi Solution - exit student from special education services.




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Posted by very confusing
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 1:28 pm

According to Web Link , of the 14904 students PUSD enrolled, only 28 of the 14904 students students go to schools outside the District.

Huh, this is far less than 1% of the students.

So this bold plan is for the 0.18% of 14904 students, a mere 28 students, that attend special education schools outside the District?

Ridiculous. Sounds like the superintendent is completely exaggerating the numbers and implying several hundred students attend schools outside the District.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm

So, people are confused by all this? But isn't that what one would expect from a gossip site populated by people who live for gossip?

I have an idea. Only listen to me, because I'm the only one telling the truth here. Everyone else is dealing with anger issues, hate issues, envy issues, boredom issues, big and weak ego issues, issues of being old, lonely, and forgotten. Me? I'm zoned in on the facts.


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Posted by Texan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm

To concerned: I also come from Texas. Both of my children received special ed services there as well as here and in many ways special ed there was better than here. So, your notion that Texas kicks special ed students to the curb doesn't fit with reality.

I think the big problem here is the reliance on an unstable source of funding for schools i.e. the state. In Texas, school districts are funded almost entirely by local property taxes. Because there was never a huge run up in property value, there was never a huge surplus that allowed schools to go on a spending spree only to have to cut back at a later date when the surplus turned into a deficit.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Well, Tex, I'm glad we're on same page about needing to raise property taxes. But please do elaborate on how Texas does better in its treatment of special needs kids than does California.

Also, it takes guts on your part to state that you left a state that you think did a better job educating your two kids for a state that you claim doesn't do a better job. Not many parents would do that. But you did! Bully for you! True Texan spirit, if you ask me: Rugged individualism and if the kids lag behind well that's just too darn bad, pilgrim. You should be very proud of yourself!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Aug 24, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sam, Not all adults in a special day class are teachers--many are aides working at a lower pay scale. Some aides are there strictly for the care of one student.

I am interested in the education of all students, and think you can lower student:teacher ratios from 30:1 to 15:1 for key subjects by adding aides in regular classrooms (better than losing minutes of instruction via staggered reading). The teacher works with the group of students struggling with concepts and the aide manages the students who have mastered the concept. The teacher works with the group tackling a new area; the aide manages students practicing for mastering a newly learned concept. Maybe you need one full time aide for every two or three classrooms (Mrs. A has reading at 8:30; Mr. B covers reading at 9:30; Ms. C at 10:30).

Anyway, it appears difficult to get the powers that be to look at other models for the classroom.

EdSource explains California's sources of funds Web Link and Special Education Web Link


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Posted by Texan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Actually, I'm mistaken about why school funding is so much more stable in Texas than here. The school budget is decided locally. Then, the school district property tax rates are set so that the school district receives the amount budgeted. That system would work well here even with wild swings in property values. Property tax rates would actually go down as property values go up. Of course, rates would increase as property values go down. But what matter most is your property tax bill wouldn't change much even with wild swings in property value.


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Posted by Texan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm

To Concerned: To answer your question about what specifically was better about Texas special ed than California special ed, my wife tells me that they had more options and were able to put our kids into programs that better suited their needs.


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Posted by Texan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm

To concerned: I'm not sure we're on the same page when it comes to raising property taxes. I'm in favor of stable school funding and stable property tax bills.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Aug 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm

OK, Kathleen. Thanks for the info.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm

I see, Tex. You know all about the Texan system, but you need to ask your wife about the specifics of Texas schools and your two special needs children. I guess knowing about the Texan system is just so much more important than knowing about your kids. Like I say, Tex, you sound like a really inspirational parent. Hang out here and let the wifey take care of the specifics of raising two special needs kids. I'm very impressed.


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Posted by glad kids graduated
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm

SF used to have child advocates that Alameda could use - don't know the resource & learned of it too late to help mine. Get legal aid. PSUD likes spending money on lawyers vs putting people & resources in place (200K in legal fees already.)

Some special needs students are mainstreamed with an aide so the aide can help one-on-one in the large classroom setting. This was done in the early 2000s at various elementary schools in PUSD. The need and the severity indicates where the child is placed.

PUSD would do better to work with the parents and avoid the law suits. However, don't count on the principals doing the right thing. One principal didn't inform teachers of the incoming students about needs (I had an English Language Learner.) This person didn't want the new teacher to "prejudge". The teacher didn't follow through on what she promised me - ended up with a police report - and the following day she said "I didn't know he (my son) didn't know English. I knew something was wrong with him because of his age." Lots of phone calls - son was moved to a different 2nd grade teacher. (That teacher is now in a different school in 4th grade.) Fast forward to 7th grade - I wrote not to mainstream, keep in ESL/ELL; he's mainstreamed. I assumed he tested out (he had not). I talked with his English teacher - fantastic! she made a plan without an IDP and he certainly progressed. No other teacher informed - and the ones I told "forgot". Come to find out in Feb that he had not tested out and should be in ESL. I talked to and emailed each teacher. Again with the science teacher who added stuff outside of the book & tested on that (kid told me completely different science - lasers do not behave the way my kid told me the teacher taught them (kid misunderstood teacher)). No extra resources at school - pooled our home resources to help out. Kid finally tested out of ESL in 12th grade - he did make it into a 4 yr college & is graduating in May (the 4+ yr plan).
Don't trust the school district. They did not test my kids when the kids entered (not enough in their language - state law says then go to another district; I didn't know & didn't press). The law says what happened in 7th should not have.


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Posted by Llo
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 24, 2012 at 10:31 pm

To glad kids graduated,

I think from the way you were able to eloquently articulate your experience that English is definitely a language you know well. Given this, can you please tell me why funds were taken away to educate my children so your could receive special services to teach your child English instead of you teaching your child English themselves?


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Posted by Melanie
a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 10:48 pm

I was thinking the same thing. I did not realize special education and special services included teaching English to non English speaking students. I assumed it meant children with learning, emotional or physical disabilities. to read the account of the parent whose child did not speak English and listen to the complaints of not enough special services is pretty outrageous. It's sounds like her student was given tons of extra support and received special services and still it was not good enough. I don't like knowing that we have so many students going without and that resources that should be going to all students are being reserved whose only special need is being taught English. My child needs extra help understanding algebra, but the school can't afford extra help. This wonan's child got what seems like a ton if extra help because he wasn't taught this country's primary language and I'm supposed to feel bad that he wasn't given even more? The icing on the cake is the advice as to how to force extra services for children that don't have any disability by just threatening legal action and more or less extorting them. This means even more taken from students to fight a lawsuit brought on by a parent that has unrealistic demands.

I just had no idea and now I'm really mad and feel my children have been cheated by parents like this one.


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Posted by Yep
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Thank you Melanie and llo for saying exactly what I was thinking. I've lived in many countries and nowhere do they give you this level of help in learning the native language. You go private if you don't think your child can handle the local language.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 24, 2012 at 11:18 pm

We've done our best to keep minorities and new immigrants out of Pleasanton, but to no avail. They continue to bleed us dry. Romney's right. I think our best outcome is if those with children with special needs self deport themselves. Think about it. Who needs them? Why should my tax dollar go to educate a kid from an inferior culture who might end up taking a job from my kid because the inferior kid, with all the attention, becomes better qualified?


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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Danbury Park
on Aug 24, 2012 at 11:50 pm

@glad kids graduated too

You said that PUSD should work with parent to avoid lawsuits. Were you even there for the district to work with you? If your child was not able to understand what was being said, something you must have known, why would it have taken two days and the use of police resources for the teacher to know this if you were there working with them? I too am troubled that you are urging the use of legal threats and legal fees when a parents' demands are not met. The extra services you are requiring for your student who has no disability are at the expense of all other students. You speak of doing the "right" thing. Does this sound "right" to you? Is it "right" for other students to go without so your student can get more?

I have maintained a tutor at my own expense for the last five years because my children need extra support. I did not demand that the school pay for this nor did I threaten a lawsuit if they did not. I accept my shared responsibility (with the school) to educate my children and do not expect PUSD to do it by themselves.

I understand that some children will need additional support if they come to the district with english as a second language. This parent seems to feel though that her child or children should have received these for somewhere around ten years. This is totally unreasonable and I'm sorry funds have that should be going to the students are being wasted on legal fees when the district draws a line.

The superintendant's comments make so much more sense now that I read this parent's post. I can understand why they would want to mainstream students like these after many years of special education services. I also did not understand the scope of students considered special ed.


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Posted by Barbara Jane
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 25, 2012 at 12:11 am

@glad kids graduated - I'm glad your kids graduated too. We do not need selfish manipulative parents like you in this district, especially with the budget issues we are facing. Had you been involved or took any responsibility for any part of your child's education you would never had to assume anything about their progress or testing.

Calling the police to an elementary school for any of the reasons you described is also very selfish as young children, not just yours, can be very traumatizing to the other students. I'm sorry for the other children that had to experience upset because of your special treatment demands.

I'm sure at this point there's now a state college having to cave to your demands and I'm sure they are looking forward to your child graduating even more than you are.


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Posted by very confused
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2012 at 12:36 am

The district is one of those entities that can't seem to work positively with children, with parents, with builders, with vendors, or with the court system. They have lost every lawsuit they have ever been involved in. They sue vendors for professional incompetence. Teachers can't stand the DO admins. And speaking of the police, the new asst supt in his prior district was involved in a controversy where an administrator called the police in front of students to arrest a teacher.

At least the ELLs kids were smart enough to turn in PUSD to the Feds. Not surprised the infamous PUSD mgt is the laughing stock of the entire Fed govt.


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Posted by P Grey
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 25, 2012 at 12:38 am

I wish I had not read Glad Kids Graduated post. Very troubling.

I will be contacting the district on Monday to offer my support in the district's finding that the students described by GKG should be mainstreamed. I would encourage other parents to do the same.

I have been working with many other parents to raise funds for PUSD students, ALL students, to make up for the funds lost. I plan to propose the creation of a legal defense fund so that the district won't have to use student funds to fight these types of lawsuits. We need to put the district in a place that they can't so easily be out funded or out lawyered and forced to give in to unreasonable demands. This is wrong.



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Posted by very confused
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2012 at 12:59 am

P Grey, make sure you put your name and all the "donors" as contributors to this great legal defense fund so you named as part of the petitioner when PUSD sues and the respondent when citizens sue PUSD.

Lawsuit filers out there, make sure you use John Does 1-100 in your filings! That way the legal defense fund people will be made parties to the lawsuits.


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Posted by Mo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2012 at 1:18 am

Extra funds for one student obtained by nothing short of extortion cheats all other students. It means less books, educational time, dropped sports, lab equiptment, technology............... I do spend a great deal of time volunteering at the school and almost every other parent so generously gives with dontations and with time. GKG is in no way a reflection of 99% of the other parents. I've never met another parent at school that would suggest student learning tools should be taken away from many in favor of defending a law suit by a single student demanding special education care for their entire primary, secondary and high school education when the student has ZERO physical, mental or learning disabilities. These hijacked resources are taken straight from all other children who are no less deserving.

Ms. Ahmad's points seem valid if GKG is your typical special education parent. They do need to be mainstreamed even when their parents think they should not and the funds for special education services should be invested in students with physical, emotional or learning disabilities.

Let's try to back off the district on this one given what's been learned. The problem is much larger than I understood and I want to offer support to PUSD in the mainstreaming of all children as quickly as possible (one of her stated goals) so that special education can take care of the special needs of the very special children that should be in these program.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 25, 2012 at 1:34 am

Confused:

You are confused aren't you? I hope you will allow the parents of the schools impacted to handle this appropriately and that you will call a time out while we look to meet the needs of the thousands of students in this fine town. It's a critical issue and not one to be taken lightly. If our schools slip, so will our home values which will lead to even further reductions in the property taxes paid and ultimately the funds that go to the students. We have no time for your nonsense so please stop posting or understand nothing you post will be read.

The parents of our schools are full of professionals from all walks of life, including a few attorneys. Hopefully early next week we can look into setting up the defense fund that is being talked about. The schools are being strong armed into providing special services for one single family for a decade or more because the mother threatened to sue and the district decided it was more cost effective to cave then take it to trial. The district was in a no win situation and we need to change this so they can't be bullied as GKG did.

Ms. Ahmad's points about trying to mainstream certain students makes perfect sense. I imagine even the children involved want to be mainstreamed. It seems that its the parents demanding a decade's long program that has been given to her kids at the expense of mine, yours, and all the other families in this town.

To the parents with kids with any physical, mental or learning disability, Pleasanton parents stand behind you. Your are where the special education dollars should go so that the unique needs of each of these students can be met in a way that allows all to flourish. Bless all of you for what you do.


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Posted by very confusing
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2012 at 2:24 am

For parents of special needs children out there that are being threatened with bullying from the district and certain board members and internal staff (like Paul from Castlewood), I'm sure many know about it, but regarding each of your children, if the district attempts to deny special education services or does not comply with delivering the services they said they were going to, please file a complaint immediately with:

The California Department of Education at this web link Web Link -- the state will investigate the District and staff members and issue a report within 60 days. Email the State and obtain the complaint form.

The Department must investigate complaints alleging violations of noncompliance with IDEA, state special education laws, or regulations, and issue a written report of findings within 60 days of receiving the complaint.

and enlist this organization for help -- Protection and Advocacy Inc at Web Link


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Posted by N.P.
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm

When we first came here, me and my sister did not speak English. No one in my family spoke english. We were put in special classes and had extra help for about two years. Our parents both went to night school so they could learn to speak English too. At home, my cousin would come to take care of us when my parents went to school and he would study with us and practice English because he learned it before we did. We all worked very hard. My parents were very grateful to the school for helping us. We were all very grateful for the extra help. We were very happy when we learned English so we could be with all of the other kids.

My mom and dad never told the school that they had to give us special classes for the whole time we were in school. This is not fair to the other kids that were my friends. My parents always said thank you to the teachers and the principal and would never have told them they were going to sue them. This is mean and not fair. All the kids should have as much education as possible and not just special spending on some kids.


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 25, 2012 at 6:54 pm

(Post deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm

(Post deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)


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Posted by Alisha
a resident of Canyon Oaks
on Aug 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm

I understand that some students, including English Learners, will need extra services. As much as it would be great if we could educate the children of the world, it's not possible. It's not right to put the needs of these children before the needs of our own. As it stands now, and as the parent with the English learning student outlined, it would seem not only are equal resources not being shared, but that the needs of other children are being put before our own.

If a family chooses to raise a child without teaching them to speak english or moves here knowing their child does not speak the native language, they cannot expect special treatments and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on their one or two own children by demanding special education resources the entire time their child is in public schools.

This is very troubling. No wonder we are seeing cutbacks in education time and on money spent on mainstream kids. The limited funds are being spent on a select few with no real need for a decade of special services because the parents have learned the American way of using lawsuits to have their unreasonable demands met. I shudder to think of what those with physical, emotional or learning disabilities that should have special services for their entire education are losing out on at the expense of this new class of "special education" students who have not a single disability.

If this continues, PUSD will not be able to maintain test scores or the superior education most of us pay for. My own children are grown and were able to graduate from PUSD before the huge budget crisis, but my grandchildren will not be attending public schools as I myself will be paying the tuition for a private education because there really is no other choice.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 25, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Yes, exactly! We need to take care of OUR OWN. And those OTHERS? Well they're not like us. Now, to spend extra money on THEM? Why, they don't even look or speak like us!

Once upon a time, townsfolk drove out those OTHERS and put them on ships to elsewhere. Just because they're good at math doesn't give them the entitlement to bleed us real citizens dry of our tax dollars. We need a national language requirement. And those others who don't belong here because of appearance or, you know, whatever, should be encouraged to self-deport. It's time we looked after OUR OWN like in the good old days.


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Posted by Well
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2012 at 10:35 pm

I agree with many here. Not understanding english is not special needs. It's bad parenting.


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Posted by Patti
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Aug 25, 2012 at 11:21 pm

@concerned.

This is a very serious issue and you should not mock those parents that are very concerned about how the cutbacks will impact our students. Such cutbacks should apply to all kids and not just those whose parent use what amounts to a bully strategy to obtain extra teaching, lower student teacher to ratio and a decade or more of this special treatment. It's insulting to all these students for you to attempt to use the race card when it's not relevant. When my children need extra assistance with any subject, I don't threaten to sue the school which would cause the district to pull money away from kids to defend a lawsuit, instead I find and fund the resources myself. Its my responsibility. The only racist person is you. You want to discriminate against thousands of students whose only mistake us to understand our native language. Because if they didn't, they could get a decade of small classes and aid and thousands in extra resources that the others don't get based but would no doubt make their primary education even better. Shame on you for teaching your child English. They will pay the price with all their resources taken away and with it being harder to learn because of it.

Go away and understand thus is a very serious issue.


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 26, 2012 at 4:57 am

So many names of posters and yet I feel I'm reading only one person with same view and one writing style. Go figure!

This is indeed a very serious issue. And there is no racial component bound up in this at all. It's a matter of taking care of our own. If people don't want to look and act like us, then maybe self-deportation is the answer. I don't think we should do anything special for special needs kids when their parents don't even speak English. And just wait til additional low income housing goes in. I'm broke, and I mean it. No more entitlements unless they belong to our own.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Aug 26, 2012 at 9:29 am

Sandy is a registered user.

I was not able to attend the meeting last Tuesday night (my husband and I were celebrating our anniversary.) Was anyone else able to attend?

I don't see the archived videorecording link anywhere on the district's website.... but I may not be looking in the right place, since the district is using new and improved software to provide access to meeting agendas and supporting documents before and during school board meetings.

For parents who have concerns about the special education agenda item, I would recommend as a first step scanning the Powerpoint presentation that was used by the Total School Solutions consultants who conducted the review of Pleasanton's current practices regarding special education students.

You should be able to download the powerpoint via this link:
Web Link

There is also an "executive summary" of the report available via the same link -- a pretty dense memo, 22 single spaced pages, but probably answers many questions people have asked here.

If you are not able to download, I recommend emailing the superintendent's executive assistant, Roxanne Pryor. I also have the documents on my hard drive and as a courtesy to other ardent advocates for Pleasanton's school children, I am willing to email them to you as attachments. My email is piderit at me dot com.

Really, what we know from this article is that the board is paying attention to special education services -- how much is being spent, what quality of service is being delivered, and how well trained are principals, teachers, and staff about their legal obligations. The detailed memo also addresses transportation expenses in detail, with recommendations for making small adjustments that could save money: for example, developing a short-term plan to make more substitute special education drivers available, without hiring dedicated bus drivers.

Let's do a little more reading and information sharing before we assume that the district is on the right or wrong track. The special education agenda item was informational -- the consultants presented the highlights of their report to the board members -- rather than an action item. The board hasn't adopted any of the recommendations made by the consultants. There will be future options for the public to address board members (or to speak with them privately if you prefer).

OK? Deep breath, everyone? Phew...

I hope we all have a great first day of school this Tuesday!


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Posted by joanna
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 26, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Special education and Services is totally different from English Language Development Program. They are funded totally differently, and are totally different in nature as far as providing services to children. Special Education is for students who have been evaluated and then diagnosed with a disability. Superintendent Ahmadi knows the law and its intent. Full mainstreaming, when possible, is the GOAL of special education. Indeed, special education law requires that a child with a disability be provided with a "free and appropriate" public education in the "least restrictive environment", (that is, the most "normal" setting, not stuck in a little hole in the wall at the back of the school.) The high costs are because of some students needing private therapeutic schools...or because the parents sometimes demand one. Other costs are for contracted services, such as with behaviorists, i.e. for autistic or developmentally delayed students. If a disabled child is eventually fully mainstreamed, special education has done its job.


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Posted by Leah
a resident of The Knolls
on Aug 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Joanna:

Do you happen to know where a breakdown can be found for special education on what is being spent where? Also, do you know if the category of "special education" included education for those with disabilities and then a second category for english learned? Is that they are both considered special education but have individual budgets under that one category? I myself would like to better understand this and it seems others do too. It does seem by you post that you might be able to shed some light on this for us.

On a side note, do you happen to know if the public has access to the pending or settled law suits that the district has had to fund responses and defenses to? It might be interesting to see or understand the sources and nature of the complaints.

Thank you.


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Posted by anabelle
a resident of Avila
on Aug 27, 2012 at 6:46 am

There are some very thoughtful responses on hear from citizens trying to understand the issues, and also some reactionary comments from people that don't know all the facts.
I have a GATE student who doesn't get what he needs, in addition to a sped student that we tried desperately to get into general ed in an inclusion environment, so I can understand both sides.
I understand how frustrating it feels to see that sped resources outweigh regular kids- my own regular ed childs class was close to 35:1 last year. That is simply classroom management for our teachers and doesn't allow them to teach to anything but the middle. With that said, think about what inclusion really means before you say you want it.
Inclusion means that our already overcrowded classes will now also have behavior and learning issues that the teacher has to deal with....leaving even LESS resources and time for regular ed kids.
I have lived in other states (we have to move because of my husband's job) and we moved to Pleasanton because of the reputation of the schools. The other places I lived were also struggling financially, but managed to handle inclusion, special ed, and smaller classes much better. I think the issue (as stated by other commentators here) is our screwed up taxes and pension system, not the small percent of special ed students.
The other thing I would like to point out is that there are many higher functioning special ed kids that CAN be successful in inclusion (with an aide) . Many autistic kids are super bright and have the potential to have successful careers where they can contribute to society. And it costs a lot less to educate them now then to NOT educate them and have them be on welfare of SSI later. I also know that Pleasanton has NOT wanted to do this in the past, and would rather lump them into a class with non-verbal kids and behavior problems. That is why they have been sued.


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Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Mohr Park
on Aug 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm

As both a special educator and involved parent of a severely intellectually disabled student (and a GATE student graduating this year), I too understand (and agree) with many of the concerns of parents on this forum. One of the things that parents of students in special education need to educate themselves on is the requirements listed in the IDEA (updated in 2004) and the No Child Left Behind Act. These Federal agendas, under the guise of helping our students, have actually hamstrung local districts by requiring "mainstreaming" or "inclusion" of the majority of student with various disabilities. These Federal requirments are based on averages and percentages, just like the necessary improvement schools are required to do, regardless of the academic level of the school. What the district is proposing is to educate general education teachers on how to interact with special education students in their classroom. AS in all districts (I did research on this last spring) in the US, there is no consensus on how to approach inclusion - something Congress left to the districts and teachers to figure out how to impliment. General education teachers coming out of teaching colleges have not been taught or prepared with enough behavior modification techniques to deal with inclusion. So our generation of children are the guinea pigs. Yes, many children excel in general education classrooms, but many fail and fall through cracks because the inability of general education teachers to work with them. Who I feel for are these teachers, who went into teaching because they love passing on the love of learning to students. Now government is expecting them to teach larger classes, with more varied abilities, in the same or less amount of time. Also, with inclusion these students are supposedly required to reach the exact same benchmarks that their typically developing peers are, with "appropriate support services". Don't blame PUSD or the Superintendent, blame Congress and the laws. I too have read this document, and talked to a number of people about it - it isn't perfect, but in my opinion, it is a good start in a very difficult path.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 27, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

It's refreshing to see the informative responses here. Thank you to those of you who took the effort to ask questions and educate in spite of the misanthropic troll's posts.


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Posted by very confusing
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Actually, blame PUSD and the superintendent. The law indicates that children should be taught in the least restrictive environment with inclusion. However, that requires that PUSD hire people who are qualified and know how to make inclusion work, not put up roadblocks and never get anything done.

The teacher's contract also indicates that general education teachers who have mainstreamed students in their classroom can have a classroom aide in the classroom. The special education funding then can fund the classroom aide.

But the teachers don't want another adult in their classroom as an aide because the other adult is thought of as an interloper.

Inclusion is a right and students with disabilities have a right to go to the same school as their friends within the neighborhood, not be bused off to some far off segregated classroom.



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Posted by joanna
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Leah and others,
Go to www.trivalleyselpa.org to see what special education programs are offered in the TriValley schools, including Pleasanton. Check out the article titled "Who is eligible for special education?" You will see that there are NO programs for English Learners under "special education."

The English Learner Programs are discussed on the PUSD website under "Special Projects". I am certain that the EL programs cost little compared to special education, although i can't find the actual numbers.

For the budget breakdown, I have looked through the PUSD site and it says that the current budget can be obtained by going down to the district office--I don't see it posted onine.

As for lawsuits, I imagine that would not be public information. I am curious also, though!


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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Aug 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm

First of all, EL students (second language learners) are NOT disabled, therefore, no they do not qualify nor meet criteria for special education. In the event an EL student is disabled in their first language they may be eligible to receive services.

Pleasanton has been very foolish in budgeting their money. Where did it all go? They receive 3X the daily amount per student, as do neighboring districts, yet the neighboring districts are not seeing the significant cut backs that Pleasanton is. Neighboring districts have retained smaller class size, they are growing in technology (Pleasanton's technolgy is a JOKE! They no longer even employ technology specialists at school sites, the computers at many schools are ancient), keep up to date with teacher trainings to ensure their children receive optimal educational benefit, and provide supplemental materials that reach all learners. Pleasanton is sliding in terms of delivering a premire education- their tests scores are no longer above neighboring districts- they are falling behind, and soon will no longer be in the running. Parents, you need to focus your energy and efforts on administration and what they are doing in terms of budgeting funds, rather than throwing blame on the disabled.

With regard to "Tex", -"Kicking special ed kids to the curb????" What hill did you come from Billy? I bet you also believe in beating kids when they don't behave? I understand they still do this in some parts of Texas. It's a shame that there are individuals out there that are so lacking in knowledge, culture and class that they could make such a grossly inappropriate statement. One day Tex, you will be effected by a loved one with special needsand I assure you, your backwoods, hick attitude will change.

Sam, you have no clue what you are talking about with regard to teacher:student ratio. Looking through a yearbook and making inaccurate acquisations is simply ignorant and dangerous. Special Education (SDC) classes have children that cannot function in the regular classroom setting. They often require more adult supervision (often for safty reasons: they may injure themselves or other students, they may have excessive screaming melt downs, etc.) Your child by no means is receiving less and they are receiving more. I invite you to become educated in this matter, because you have no clue to what you are talking about.

Also, the district receives $ for it's special education student population however, they are not allocated enough given the legal requirements. It's similar to No Child Left Behind- greater expectations were placed on teachers and districts, without adequate funding.

It's appaling to read that people are placing blame on the disabled when the problem exists in the state's budget, poor planning and budgeting on the district's behalf, poor administration, and so much more.




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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Aug 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Concerned in Vineyard Avenue neighborhood,

don't spread misinformation. Pleasanton does *not* receive 3x what neighboring districts receive per student. Do your homework on the Ed Data website: Web Link


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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 2, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I'm for any kid getting the best possible education. sorry to read that some nerds don't agree...VIVA KIDS! VIVA!


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Posted by pleasanton member
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm

If the district's aim is "mainstream" (an archaic term in the 21st century to begin with -it's called inclusion these days, people) and make sure that every child is off the special ed rolls, I truly believe that she was not thinking, misquoted or is completely incompetent. First, where are the "how's" on how she is going to accomplish such a feat? Would like to see it. And ultimately, inclusion is absolutely the way to go for SOME children. But education is an art, not a science, and there is no panacea that will ever work for every child. For Ahmadi to throw all of her support behind only one way (inclusion) in education shows how little she knows about the complicated and beautiful art that is teaching a child. Shame on her. And special ed parents: time to lawyer up. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT attend your next IEP meeting without one if this is the direction the district is going.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 6, 2012 at 11:45 am

News update: a report from WestEd shows that California students in special education are receiving fewer services and not performing as well as special education students in other states.

Here's the link: Web Link


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Posted by pleasanton memeber
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 6, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Hi Sandy
Thank you for the information. I had a child in special ed and then decided to pull him and send him to private school after the horribly inept dealings my child and I had with administrators at PUSD. That said, I may not afford to keep him in private school long-term, so I need to get educated for if and when he goes back to the district. Is there some sort of action committee that is planning on uniting on these issues? FOr ex., in my old school district we had a council for school parents, broken into special needs and typicals formations, that was like an umbrella org. to the PTA. Are there any organizers speaking on behalf of the children on all of this?
If anyone knows, please post!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Each school has a School Site Council that includes administers, teachers, and parents. As a parent, you are elected by your school's parents.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 6, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Apologies: administrators.


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Posted by pleasanton member
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Kathleen,
Thank you for the info. I understand that individual site councils at the schools are par for the course in most school districts, and are very effective in addressing issues at each school level. It appears now that we have a much larger issue here, where I believe parents need to unite and develop an action plan that adresses this issue on a collective level. I am wondering what else can be done to pull the representatives from each school to form a committee that adresseses these issues under a united front. If anyone has any ideas, please post.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I suppose parent reps from each school could ask for a district wide SSC meeting. At least everyone could hear the same thing at the same time from DO administrators. You could then poll for interest on a group to study the district's plan if it is formalized. Second suggestion is to address the Board at one of their meetings to suggest a committee. They have the power to form one.


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Posted by Sandra Willson
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 24, 2014 at 9:17 am

There are so many comments of worried and terrified parents and it is not surprising as they realize that they have constantly to fight for the better conditions and education. I know lots of parents who have to teach their children themselves. As you understand they are not specialists, so they use online services like this one Web Link for writing papers and many other resources to bring up competitive children. But knowledge and grades is not the main thing that influences their lives, it is so important to create a special atmosphere where all these kids can feel safe.


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Posted by Sandra Willson
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Oct 24, 2014 at 9:17 am

There are so many comments of worried and terrified parents and it is not surprising as they realize that they have constantly to fight for the better conditions and education. I know lots of parents who have to teach their children themselves. As you understand they are not specialists, so they use online services like this one Web Link for writing papers and many other resources to bring up competitive children. But knowledge and grades is not the main thing that influences their lives, it is so important to create a special atmosphere where all these kids can feel safe.


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Posted by my essay writer online
a resident of Avignon
21 hours ago

Study guides and strategies website has been researched, authored, maintained and supported as an international, learner-centric, educational public service.
Web Link;
But looking only at someone's experience and achievements ignores how that person may become. You'll be surprised how often they do nt, you've misread the question.


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Posted by Jtjh
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
15 hours ago

It looks as though the goal of recent posts in this thread is to promote online businesses.