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

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MBUSD School Board Elections - November 6, 2001

We ASK you to consider...

Advocates for Special Kids [ASK] includes parents supporting families of children with special needs. We actively educate ourselves about our children’s disabilities and the full range of services and placement options available to them. ASK works to improve the delivery of services to students with special needs and has attempted to foster collaboration with MBUSD to develop services and supports to ensure that ALL children receive an appropriate education.

Over the past few years, ASK has expressed concern about how MBUSD has managed our community’s tax dollars, especially regarding special education. We believe that because MBUSD generally holds low expectations for students with special needs and fails to provide them with an appropriate education so that these children do not do well, parents are often forced to take legal action to secure the most basic programs and services for their children.

Although an infusion of new blood in MBUSD’s administrative ranks has seen better implementation of educational services for our students, problems persist. ASK welcomes the upcoming November 6, 2001 school board election for the opportunity it provides to foster community discussion about issues we feel voters should consider in choosing their school board representatives. As a 501(c)(3), ASK cannot support or endorse any particular candidate for school board, but does think voters should be aware of MBUSD’s special education record.

ASK requests that you consider the following:


MBUSD’s Board Consent Calendars routinely exclude substantive information about legal fees paid to its attorneys to fight services for students with special needs, leaving no real community oversight regarding how our tax dollars are being spent on these fees.



In 1993, legal fees related to special education were a mere $555.00. From February 2000 to June 2000, such legal fees were averaging $20,000 a month. In a July 19, 2000 School Board statement, legal fees for 1999-2000, originally projected at $96,300, were actually $180,630, almost double MBUSD’s original projections. Projections for 2000-2001 were even higher and actual fees totalled over $231,000!



In 1995, MBUSD had only one (1) case open in CA’s Special Education Hearing Office [SEHO]. When ASK submitted its "Summary and Recommendations" to MBUSD in December 1999, MBUSD had more due process cases filed against it than were filed against Long Beach Unified, a district with twelve times as many students as MBUSD.



The school board tried to prevent parents of special needs children from agendizing MBUSD’s "Mission Statement" for discussion, to demonstrate by that discussion how the "Mission Statement" is not a reality for MBUSD students with special needs.



MBUSD has excluded children with special needs [and even some students with typical needs] from reading remediation programs by not considering students who receive special education services for these programs and by failing to appropriately, and on a timely basis, inform parents about the programs. This denies far too many MBUSD students of their most fundamental right: the right to learn to read.



MBUSD’s school board failed to take action against or even speak out regarding a student editorial in Mira Costa’s "La Vista" newspaper which specifically targeted students with special needs by claiming that lawyers used these students to "concoct" stories to gain "loot" from MBUSD which was therefore unavailable to the district to buy computers for the "normal students" at the high school. [The student’s words!]



MBUSD has known since February 2001, as a result of ASK’s Report "Progress and Accountability," that many Mira Costa 9th, 10th and 11th graders are scoring below the national average in reading (which is more than likely true for nearly all children receiving special education services at the high school and throughout MBUSD), yet has failed to substantively or publicly respond to ASK’s findings. Children who fail to learn to read feel the lasting impacts of this failure throughout their lives. This situation not only impacts our children; it impacts our community and cries out for our attention.



MBUSD’s problems result from its past 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 problems will continue and ALL our children will suffer.


A September 15, 2000 letter from the district to Elementary Parents stated:

"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."

Yet, parents of children with special needs have been told by MBUSD that the district doesn’t have to "maximize" their child’s education and that the law only requires that our children receive minimum access. This despite their own curriculum brochures which historically has stated "A continuum of programs exists to ensure that all students receive appropriate educational services that enable them to achieve their maximum potential."

Our community doesn’t expect the "minimum" for our typical children. Historically it has funded extensive additional programs to ensure that MBUSD children receive the best education available. Should we expect anything less for children with special needs?


PLEASE CONSIDER THESE POINTS when you vote November 6th, 2001!

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


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

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