Inclusion and Diversity for All Students
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Imagine you receive notice from the school district, usually in July, that your child will be going to a different elementary school than they did last year. Imagine this happens approximately every other year so that your kids on average experience 3-4 school changes from kindergarten through 6th grade.
Parents of children in Special Needs Life Skills classes in the Alpine School District do not need to imagine this--they live it. A recent survey of 28 parents across the district found that their elementary-age children in special education have a 72% chance of being forced to change schools between grades, while children in general education classes from the same families only have a 7% chance of a move between grades. What is more, these changes are routinely made without any input from parents and are often in July, just before the school year begins. See full analysis at: https://bit.ly/34QWz6B
Following its history of constantly moving children and classes, the Alpine School District recently decided to pull three Life Skills Special Education classes from Highland Elementary where teachers, administrators, faculty, and staff spent a decade building the most amazing program of inclusivity and diversity for all students. Special education students have true acceptance in a general education environment. General education students embrace diversity and inclusivity. All students' lives are enriched by this environment. The District made the decision to disband this program and send students to different schools without any input from parents or the community. A parents meeting was called after the decision and only at the insistence of dozens of parents. The district has stated that this decision benefits the special education children by providing them with slightly shorter transportation times. Parents in these classes have seen the impact of changing schools and the extra difficulty that their children experience in moving schools--making new friends, adjusting to new surroundings, having new teachers, and some even leaving siblings behind who are also attending Highland.
It is time that the Alpine School district provides the same educational and social consistency to children with special needs that it does to children in general education classes.
We request from the Alpine School District that they enact the following reasonable changes:
1. A solution be found that can preserve the Life Skills Special Education classes at Highland Elementary School.
2. Changes to boundaries for children in Alpine School District Special Education classes not be made unilaterally without parent input. Instead, we request that parents receive the same courtesy of advanced notice and parent meetings that families with children in general education be given.
3. Additional solutions are found to stop the discriminatory practice of changing schools for children with special needs.
4. Children with special needs are allowed the same grandfathered option as other general education students are given after a boundary change: They are allowed to continue to attend the school they are currently enrolled in even after a boundary change.
Diversity needs to be celebrated, not marginalized.
All children need consistency. And these children have an even greater need for this consistency.
Special education students need the community to stand up for them.
Please help ensure that children of all abilities receive the consistency in education that enables them to thrive.
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