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

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Research and Advocacy


Advocates for Special Kids [ASK] is a group of parents who have, over the years, worked to increase our knowledge and awareness about disabilities, about inclusive practices in education and the community, and about the inner-workings of LEAs and SEAs as they attempt to implement and enforce the "Individuals with Disabilities Education Act" [IDEA] and other legislation related to the education and community participation of individuals with disabilities.

Over the past four years we have used the fruit of our efforts to attempt to demonstrate to our LEA (and to the parents of other students with special needs) that our LEA is not serving our children sufficiently or appropriately and to direct our LEA toward the various resources available to assist them in building a more inclusive school environment with better outcomes for our children. Practically all of our efforts have involved the use of research-based tools and methodologies founded in best practices, in combination with the fundamentals of grassroots advocacy.

Our efforts have included:  

December 1999 - Submitted a report entitled "Summary and Recommendations: Improving Special Education in Manhattan Beach Unified School District Through Compliance with IDEA and Parent/School Collaboration" to MBUSD’s Superintendent, Board of Trustees, and local, state and federal education agencies. (Purpose: To encourage MBUSD to move toward a more inclusive educational system, to deliver educational services to students in a model more aligned with research and best practices, and to ensure students are educated in their least restrictive environments [LRE]).

January 2000 [Ongoing] - Began an analysis of MBUSD legal fees related to special education litigation. (Purpose: To demonstrate to MBUSD and the community that an inordinate amount of taxpayer dollars were being spent on legal fees as compared to student services or staff development).

May 2000 - Prepared a "SEHO Analysis" which analyzed data from the Special Education Hearing Office [SEHO] regarding cases filed vs. MBUSD in combination with data from MBUSD school board consent calendars. (Purpose: To demonstrate that MBUSD’s current approach and practices was causing greater litigation, greater legal fees, and resulting in the delivery of fewer services to students and a concomitant drain upon MBUSD fiscal resources.)

June 2000 - Provided each member of the MBUSD Board of Trustees with an individual copy of Restructuring for Caring and Effective Education: Piecing the Puzzle Together by Richard A. Villa and Jacqueline S. Thousand. (Purpose: To raise the Board’s awareness of the availability of research-based interventions that can lead to effective systems change and improved outcomes for students with special needs.)

September 2000 - Submitted input to MBUSD with regard to its District-wide Goals and Objectives. (Purpose: To encourage MBUSD to proactively consider the needs of students receiving special education services in formulating district-wide goals and objectives).

October 2000 - Prepared a flyer for public dissemination in connection with MBUSD’s bond election, which analyzed MBUSD’s activities regarding special education and litigation, and incorporated the findings of our legal fee research/analysis begun in January 2000. (Purpose: To further raise community awareness regarding MBUSD’s utilization of taxpayer dollars for litigation rather than education, in light of a bond measure that was soliciting additional taxpayer dollars for school district use.)

December 2000 - Prepared an analysis of MBUSD’s Mission Statement, and using MBUSD’s own documents and public statements, contrasted the Mission Statement with the reality for MBUSD’s students with special needs. (Purpose: To demonstrate to the Board of Trustees that the reality for students with special needs in MBUSD was not aligned with best practices, either in terms of inclusive models or state and federal guidelines.)

January 2001 - Provided input to MBUSD regarding a district-wide analysis of special education by Dr. Caryl Miller, a consultant hired by MBUSD. (Purpose: To provide the parents’ perspective of how MBUSD’s special education program was performing.)

February 2001 - Submitted a report to MBUSD’s Superintendent and Board of Trustees entitled "Progress and Accountability: Stanford 9 and API Data Reporting in Manhattan Beach Unified School District" which analyzed data from the State of California, as well as MBUSD, regarding Stanford 9 scores. (Purpose: To demonstrate that MBUSD students were not being appropriately tested, were not making appropriate progress, were not having their lack of progress monitored and to show that API data reporting did not adequately reflect or report these problems.)

March 2001 - English and Language Arts Standards Analysis - Prepared an analysis of district-proposed English and Language Arts standards and assessments. (Purpose: To show that MBUSD-proposed standards and testing procedures would not assist students with more complex learning issues, didn’t take into account students with complex needs and wouldn’t assess in a fashion that would catch and address such issues in an early or timely fashion.)

April 2001 - ASK Family Alert - communicated with MBUSD parents regarding MBUSD’s promotion and retention policies and reading remediation programs provided pursuant to it. (Purpose: To inform MBUSD parents of children with special needs about eligibility for California state programs designed to address failure to progress in reading).

August 2001 - Submitted a "Proposal for Teachers Notes" to Assistant Superintendent suggesting that ALL children would benefit from prior access to teachers’ notes and outlines specifically designed to assist children with various disabilities. (Purpose: To provide input regarding best practices in the provision of curriculum adaptations and modifications that would also benefit ALL MBUSD students.)

ASK holds monthly meetings and over the past four years has featured Mary Falvey, Ph.D., [Cal State LA], Scott Shepard [Behavioral Support], Zoe Mailloux [Pediatric Therapy Network], Angelica Dirtadian [Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes], Lisa Brownfield [Center for Autism Related Disorders (CARD)], and Sharon Lowery [Smart Start] as well as presentations regarding best practices and new methodologies. Future speakers scheduled include: Lynn Smithey [MBUSD] and Dr. William Frea [Autism Spectrum Therapies].


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

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