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A School District's Hostility Towards Special Education

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On November 16, 2016, the Office of the Independent Monitor held its semi-annual public hearings about the services provided by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to students with special education needs. The following is a copy of my testimony before Dr. Rostetter:

When I saw your reaction to Adam's speech, it gave me something that I haven't had in a long time at these meetings and that is hope. It showed that you really care about what happens to our children. But Adam shouldn't be the exception to the rule. Instead, the LAUSD shows hostility towards special education.

MÃ nica Garcia said in a Board meeting just a few months ago that "I'm not about defunding special ed, I just know that we have a serious issue to how can we serve our own kids."

Our own kids? Aren't our kids part of the LAUSD? Shouldn't our kids also be included in its mission to educate?

The former Superintendent commented on a lawsuit by parents seeking options for their kids and to keep the Special Education centers open. After the parents lost that lawsuit, Mr. Deasy said: "this is a civil rights victory for our students with special needs."

Our kids need protection from us? From the parents who are trying to get them the best education they can?

This is not a district that cares about the special education needs of its students. They make parents hire lawyers to get necessary services for their kids. I have been told by teachers on the ground level, who have agreed with me, that "this is what your child needs", but they "are not allowed to put it in the IEP because the District prohibits it."

As a result, I had to spend two days at the Beaudry headquarters getting the necessary help for my daughters. And then, when I finally accomplish my goal, I'm told that I have to sign a confidentiality agreement so that I cannot tell any other parents what other services are available and what they can do to get the best education for their kids.

The former Executive Director of Special Education, Sharyn Howell, said that "the LAUSD's vision is for every student to be college-prepared and career-ready."

I don't have the luxury of hoping that my kids will go to college. They are on the moderate to severe end of the autism spectrum. They are not going to college. I need them to be able to reach the highest goals possible that allow them to be as independent and happy adults as possible. Special Education is "special" because it is unique for each child. We can't just put all of these kids in one single basket and insist that they learn "that way."

For 20 years, the District has been under this consent decree. That is before my daughters were even born. I can't imagine how bad it was before but something has to be done to change the District's attitude towards special education.

Thank you.

In order to show how I would govern differently than the incumbent, I have released several proposed resolutions that I will introduce as soon as I take office. The latest example is one that calls for Improving Special Education Within the LAUSD.


I am a candidate for the District 2 seat on the LAUSD School Board, founder of Change The LAUSD and member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council. You can voice your support for my campaign through DFA. Opinions are my own.

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Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a " (more...)

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