For the last several months, parents of special education students in the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) have been working to make their voices heard. Parents have protested in front of the district office, filed a petition and often filled the district board room to advocate for reform for the special education curriculum and facilities such as the portables for the Adult Transition Program (ATP).
In a response to their suggestions, the district board voted to form a special education task force at a special meeting held on Aug. 2.
“This is a great first step forward to working with our community in special education and otherwise and I’m really happy to see this being formed” said SDUHSD President Amy Herman.
The formation of the task force came a day after the district announced a short-term solution to the parents’ issues with the ATP facilities, two portables to house special education students ages 18-22 on the Earl Warren Middle School Campus. For the coming school year, the ATP program will be moved to three classrooms at La Costa Canyon High School. The district will continue to pursue long-term solutions, such as building permanent facilities at Sunset High School or moving to the program to MiraCosta Community College where students can interact with like-age peers.
The task force will include representation from special education parents and educators, as well as a rotating school board member. According to Dill, the purpose of the task force will be to engage in a long-term strategic planning process for special education services. The group will come together through a series of formally agendized and publicly-noticed meetings to work through a series of topics over the course of the school year. The task force would come up with recommendations for the board to consider for the 2018-19 school year.
Some of the topics to be discussed would include alignment of curriculum with California standards, post-secondary transition, parent outreach and engagement, career pathways and electives, community partnerships and engagement, professional development for certificated and classified staff, developing independence, equity and inclusion, and facilities issues.
“The task force will review and make recommendations regarding facilities for our specialized programs to ensure a cohesive long-term facilities plan for these programs,” Dill wrote. “As part of this, the task force will evaluate and recommend options for permanent placement of the ATP classrooms.”
Parent Lucile Lynch thanked the district for holding the July 28 tour and meeting, acknowledging that it was at times very emotional but the response from the district was intelligent and positive.
“It’s very exciting to have the task force,” Lynch said. “I think it’s really an opportunity to make this program one of the best, just like our other programs in the district. I want to thank everybody for considering this, listening to us and moving forward.”
The board will be holding a special education workshop before its next meeting on Aug. 17.