ASK - Advocates for Special Kids
"Parents helping parents to understand special education"

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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 children.

Consider the following:

From May 1998 to May 2000, MBUSD was out of compliance with state and federal regulations related to special education.


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?


PLEASE CONSIDER THESE POINTS when you decide how to vote on Measure M!

ASK - c/o 3109 Walnut Avenue, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 


Copyright © 2001  ASK 
All rights reserved.
Revised: January 25, 2002

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