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
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.
WE BELIEVE -
MBUSD’s problems result from its past choice to pursue litigation
rather than education in dealing with students with special needs and their
||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
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