Does ASK Support Measure M?
Advocates for Special Kids [ASK] is
a parent group which supports families with children with special needs. Members
actively educate themselves about their children’s disabilities and the full
range of services and placement options available to them. ASK works toward
improving the delivery of services to students with special needs and has
attempted to foster collaboration with MBUSD to develop services and supports
necessary to ensure that ALL children receive an appropriate education.
Although we are aware of the need
and the community’s desire for a newly-refurbished high school, we have grave
concerns regarding how MBUSD has managed and spent our tax dollars over the past
few years, in particular with regard to special education. We believe that
because MBUSD holds such low expectations for students with special needs and
fails to provide them an appropriate education, parents are often forced to take
legal action to secure even the most basic programs and services for their
Consider the following:
From May 1998 to May 2000,
MBUSD was out of compliance with state and federal regulations related to
||MBUSD’s School Board Consent
Calendars routinely omit any mention of legal fees it pays to attorneys to
fight the provision of services to students with special needs. As a result,
there is no Board or community oversight with regard to how our tax dollars
are being spent on these fees.
||In 1993, legal fees related to
special education totaled a mere $555.00. In a July 19, 2000 School Board
statement, legal fees originally projected to be $96,300 for 1999-2000, were
actually $180,630, almost double what district staff had projected.
Projections for the 2000-2001 school year are even higher. Given the
district’s poor record in making projections, these projections probably
understate what actual fees will be.
||In 1995, MBUSD had only one (1)
case open in CA’s Special Education Hearing Office [SEHO]. MBUSD currently
has seventeen (17) open cases.
||When ASK filed its
"Summary and Recommendations" in December 1999, MBUSD had more due
process cases filed against it than were presently filed against Long Beach
Unified, a district with twelve times as many students as Manhattan Beach.
From February 2000 to June
2000, special ed legal fees rose to an average of $20,000 per month. Given
the increase in recent case filings, fees will continue to rise.
||Manhattan Beach Unified has
intentionally excluded children with special needs [and even some students
with typical needs] from remediation programs mandated by the State of CA
through its failure to appropriately inform parents of these programs and
their children’s rights to participate in them.
MBUSD has publicly blamed its
deficit on the parents of children with special needs.
We believe MBUSD’s current
budget crisis is their own doing. We believe -
it is a result of
poor budget projections and inaccurate budget assumptions regarding the costs
involved in educating students with special needs
it is due in no
small part to its failure to accurately predict the numbers and needs of
special needs students, resulting from its refusal to perform the needs
assessment for staffing for special education students called for by the state’s
May 1998 review.
it is a result of
its choice to pursue litigation rather than education in dealing with students
with special needs and their parents.
that so long as
MBUSD fails to approach special education in a proactive fashion, with the
needs of the children foremost in mind, their litigation
costs and their
budget deficit will only worsen and ALL our children will suffer.
Can we in good conscience
support a measure that will create greater indebtedness for taxpayers, and at
the same time put additional funds into the coffers of a district that chooses
to spend its money in a manner that we believe is detrimental to ALL our
children and their right to an appropriate education?
At the beginning of each school
year, MBUSD provides parents with a curriculum brochure for every grade which
historically has stated the following with regard to Special Education:
"A continuum of programs
exists to ensure that all students receive appropriate educational services
that enable them to achieve their maximum potential."
Yet, at IEP’s for our children
with special needs, we are told by MBUSD representatives that the district doesn’t
have to "maximize" our children’s education; instead, they claim the
law only requires that our children receive minimum access. We believe THIS IS
SIMPLY NOT TRUE.
In addition, a September 15, 2000
letter sent by Kate Nelson to all Elementary Parents states:
"Our District is
justifiably proud of a long tradition of academic success, a tradition that
comes from the dedication of our professionals and strong support from our
parents. That winning partnership ensures that every child who enters our
school system at any level not only has access to high academic standards,
but also the means to meet or exceed them."
Our community doesn’t expect the
"minimum" for our typical children. Our community has historically
supported and funded extensive additional programs to ensure that our children
receive the best education available. Why should we expect anything less for our
children with special needs? ASK yourself - if it were your child who lived in
this "Blue Ribbon" district, yet you were told they were only entitled
to a second-class education, wouldn’t you fight as hard as we have for the
rights of your child?
THESE POINTS when you decide how to vote on Measure M!
c/o 3109 Walnut Avenue, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266