News

Judge sides with family in Palo Alto special education case

Preliminary injunction requires schools to provide in-home services to boy with autism

A federal judge has sided with a Palo Alto family in an interim ruling that orders the Palo Alto Unified School District to provide in-home education for a 12-year-old boy with severe autism.

The parents of the boy, "S.C." sued the school district in March, alleging that Palo Alto Unified violated U.S. law when it refused to offer in-home education to the student after the family moved to Palo Alto in early 2013.

Prior to moving to Palo Alto, the child had received in-home education in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District and the parents have maintained he should have access to the same kind of program in Palo Alto.

The district instead proposed a "comparable" educational program for the boy, but on a school campus.

At issue in the ruling is the "stay put" provision of the U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which – pending resolution of any dispute between parents and a district over a child's placement -- requires districts to maintain a disabled student's educational program from the previous district.

The family initially appealed the district's offer of an in-school program to the California Office of Administrative Hearing, which sided with the school district in a decision issued Dec. 31, 2013.

The family is seeking judicial review of that decision in the current federal lawsuit, in which U.S. Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd last month issued the preliminary injunction ordering the district to provide in-home services pending resolution of the family's dispute with Palo Alto Unified.

The judge accepted the family's argument that the "stay put" provision means the district must replicate the services the child received in Pajaro Valley, including that the services be provided in his home and not in a school classroom.

He rejected the district's contention that the district is required only to provide services that are "comparable," not identical, to the student's prior Individualized Educational Program.

According to the lawsuit, the student "lacks the ability to communicate verbally and has a history of severe allergic reactions to food" and also has difficulty with fine and visual motor skills and sensory processing behavior.

View the ruling here.

Chris Kenrick

Comments

Posted by Logic, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 14, 2014 at 10:27 am

Fighting losing lawsuits with parents with severely handicapped children? Not how the district should be spending taxpayer money.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 14, 2014 at 10:31 am

If school district is required to provide "in-home" school in this case, it would open up a lot of other cases in Palo Alto. The following ruling is questionable due to the sizes and other factors of the districts. This rule cannot fit all.

"At issue in the ruling is the "stay put" provision of the U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which – pending resolution of any dispute between parents and a district over a child's placement -- requires districts to maintain a disabled child's educational program from the previous district."


Posted by logical conslusion, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 14, 2014 at 11:37 am

@Logic,

Would fighting winning lawsuits with parents with severely handicapped children be how the district should be spending taxpayer money?

How would the district know if they are going to win or lose without fighting the lawsuit?


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 14, 2014 at 11:57 am

I wouldn't hold this lawsuit on the same level as the other PAUSD related legal battles. I interpret this one as needing an arbitrator to settle a difference of opinion...not something where there has been egregious behavior or insufficient action to protect students from bullying.


Posted by Schools are about kids not egos, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2014 at 1:44 pm

"How would the district know if they are going to win or lose without fighting the lawsuit? "

This is like a diplomat asking how do we know whether we will win or lose a war unless we go to battle -- without examining a seriously broken diplomatic process or even trying diplomacy first.

This should not be about "winning" or "losing", it should only be about doing what is best for the kids and the district as a whole. The parents should have had recourse within the district far short of having to go to battle in the courts, but unfortunately, we have a seriously broken administrative group in this area that seems incapable of working with families or operating in good will. We are paying for the pernicious deeds of petty bureaucrats that have no place in a district with these standards.

We just wasted a lot of money that could have gone to giving services to other kids -- erring on the side of doing a little more rather than paying for some lawyer's BMW. We seriously need a different legal team with a more child-school-centered ethos.


Posted by concerned taxpayer, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 14, 2014 at 2:04 pm

The IDEA, when used by SpEd parents in this way, is harming school districts. This is nothing new. PAUSD (and every other district) is already shelling out crazy thousands to send kids to special schools by parent/lawyer demand.

Less money for the mainstream. It's the same old story.


Posted by Logic, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 14, 2014 at 2:30 pm

It's odd to say that the school district is harmed by helping a child learn despite his disabilities. That's the point of a school district.


Posted by Also Logic, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 14, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Superintendents need to preserve their massive salaries by making the district do less actual work. Look, schools ARE about egos!


Posted by casey, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 14, 2014 at 3:29 pm

casey is a registered user.

This isn't exactly fighting a losing lawsuit. The District prevailed in the hearing before the Office of Administrative hearings.

Web Link

Additionally, the court in this instance did not decide on the merits of the suit. Instead, it required the district to maintain the existing plan pending the resolution of the lawsuit.


Posted by logical conslusion, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 14, 2014 at 3:50 pm

@ego,
Following your analogy, we should never go to war, we should just roll over and do whatever the despot asks if they won't accept a diplomatic solution.

The parents went through the process and didn't like the compromise result.

You do realize what is being asked for here? Web Link

"In this case, the family is seeking "continued provision of an in-home educational program designed to meet his unique educational needs arising from his disability, including 40 hours a week of ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy, two hours per week of individual speech and language services and two hours per week of individual occupational therapy services."

Your response is to just provide all this with no challenge? At what point would you start to challenge?



Posted by Cam, a resident of Addison School
on Jul 14, 2014 at 5:21 pm

As a non-PAUSD teacher, I feel that the parents are missing what is best for the child. A 12 year old needs to be with other kids otherwise he will require special help for the rest of his life.

Why did the parents move to PAUSD? Was it because of the great reputation PAUSD has for special ed students? Maybe the parents need to look at their reasons....


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 14, 2014 at 5:39 pm

If I remember correctly, the parents want the student educated at home because he has food allergies and the District wanted him educated at school because they felt it was a better educational option since he also would be able to interact with more people including non-disabled kids. I think they are also asking for significantly more ABA hours than his old District provided.


Posted by Teen Spirit, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Sounds like the parents made a dreadful mistake moving to Palo Alto. They probably thought the schools here would be better.
I know I have been shocked recently to learn that there are several better districts that have better, higher scoring schools and a cheaper cost of living ( Fremont, San Ramon, Danville, Willow Glen, Sunnyvale). They probably should have researched a little better.

We may have great teachers, but the administration here is awful, and they really try to keep kids with learning disabilities and other problems from getting IEP. This was a problem caused by Kevin Skelly, which he also did in his previous district of Pomona. Yes, he saved the district money, but also caused the scores to fall as a result of mainstreaming LD kids.


Posted by Schools are about kids not egos, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Read the article, the parents were asking for what their child already had in another district to be continued here.

Speaking from personal experience, our district people are in the stone ages when it comes to understanding allergy, and they do not have a mindset of prevention. Additionally, when a child has life-threatening allergies, it's not just that district personnel have to understand, but they have to behave in a way that engenders trust, which is not a strong suit of our special ed department in PAUSD.

There are a whole host of circumstances in life where fighting is the more costly option overall and does all kinds of damage that diplomacy avoids. Someone asked at what point would I start to challenge? My response is that if you have never tried diplomacy or a culture of diplomacy first, you can't even ask that question yet.

That would come after doing making some really important changes in our district:

1) We do not have a culture or spirit of collaboration and goodwill toward families at the district level. How do we cultivate that? Asking when we challenge before asking how we learn how to collaborate is like asking at what point you start to challenge a malpractice lawsuit if you're a doctor, while ignoring that the vast, vast majority of people who are harmed by malpractice already don't sue, and of those who do, a sincere apology and attempts to remedy the mistake are known to reduce suits and reduce costs even if a suit is inevitable. So the answer is not in focusing on the fight, but focusing first on the good of the patient, or in this case, the good of students, and only THEN figuring out what's what. That sort of culture reduces costs, conflicts, and results in better outcomes and trust, and is the more appropriate culture for a school district.

The questioner above has ignored my analogy that you try diplomacy first, which frankly, does not happen in our special ed department because we have the worst adversarial legal advice and a few too-powerful petty bureaucrats.

2) We spend a huge amount of money on salaries, and business research shows after a certain level, it doesn't result in better performance. When's the last time we had a reorganization in which we reduced and streamlined bureaucracy and salaries at the top/district level? Do we even have a procedure for doing this? Even the state has a citizens' commission for examining, and sometimes lowering, the governor's salary. Do we have such a thing? No. And interestingly, many of our school district administrators have higher pay that the governor of the whole state of California. We could probably do some retirement buy outs and bring in some cheaper, more recently-educated younger and more energetic "fresh eyes" that allow us to maintain levels of service while saving money that could be used for educational services WE CAN AFFORD.

Let's face it, our program for the mostly seriously disabled students in the district at the OH has shrunk significantly over what it was decades ago, because it's just so expensive to live here. Surely we can in this wealthy district err on the side of spending our money on the kids rather than on expensive lawyers and legal battles that stress out the families.

No, we do not have a reputation for being this great place to get services no one can get anywhere else, we have a reputation of having a district of expensive and incompetent @$$hole$ at the top.

3) How much money are we losing by failing to cultivate the good-will of this community? We have a really well-heeled community here, and even those without a lot of money have friends who do. I know and know of quite a few people who would have sent their kids to public school here and whose donations would have done a lot to make up for any perceived loss of funds our district might have by doing the right thing, had this district had a better attitude toward families, especially kids with special needs. (Though I very much doubt the cost of just providing the services would be so much more than we are needlessly spending litigating.)

If the district behaved in a trustworthy way and the family could be reassured over time that their child with life-threatening allergies would be safe at school, IF it were deemed in the child's best interests educationally, then perhaps the family could be convinced. A district that takes a family to court puts them through a host of stressful procedures that are likely to destroy any such trust for the duration of their time with the district.

Advice to the district: Err on the side of providing the services and working with families, and stop spending so much money being litigious jerks.


Posted by special ed, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:47 pm

[Portion removed.]

Kids in our district use special devices to help them speak. Sensory issues? Yep. All of the autistic kids I know share that common trait as well as fine motor skill issues, gross motor skill issues, behavioral issues and food allergies.
Our district has programs for Special need kids and they individualized the program to fit the child's needs.


Posted by Safety, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Re the parents' concern for allergy safety: If this is such a problem (although the administrative report includes only two instances, neither life-threatening) that the parents question the ability of the district to keep him safe while in a pretty controlled environment, then why have they taken the child to playgrounds, restaurants, amusement parks, and other uncontrolled environments, and hired untrained people from Craig's list as his companions. Doesn't add up to me.

They are also requesting significantly more in-home support than was provided by the previous district. Again, it doesn't add up.


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2014 at 9:06 pm

@moderator: please note the first sentences of "special ed", above.
Thank you.


Posted by Case Decision, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 14, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Palo Alto Online, thank you for the links to Judge Jones' original decision on the case.
From the links, this the original decision document, correct?
Web Link

Reading Judge Jones' decision above, a concern is the number of PAUSD employees and contractors who testified against the disabled child who are people who provided special education evaluations to the disabled child, presumably telling families they were doing this to help the child in school. Isn't their testimony an ethical conflict of interest?
When this case is concluded, will the same people provide services after opposing the child in court?
Occupational Therapists and Speech Language Pathologists are medical professionals. Don't they take oaths that say to put the client or patient (disabled child) first? Who was their client or patient here (the child or the District), and whose interests do they put first?
BCBA's and behaviorists have an ethical code (Web Link) that says they must put the child first, not the school District. Did they do this here? The behaviorist and BCBA backing her up are related to each other. Was that disclosed to the families before they did the evaluations? Was it disclosed to the court? Is there a way families can know in advance the relationships of District provided staff who provide services and evaluations before they agree to them? The BCBA supervised other PAUSD behaviorists. Are all the family relationships and that she will testify against students for PAUSD disclosed to parents up front, before they agree to services?
Resource Room specialists are teachers in a special position of trust. A psychologist is someone parents would put a highest level of trust in. When she testified she disclosed private student information. Were the parents told she might do this when they consented to her evaluations? Did the parents have any choice to allow her to do the evaluation? If they said no, wouldn't the District have refused to help the child or used it against the child?
Are services provided at school used to collect information to testify and disclose medical information against children?
How can parents do to assure school services are only being done to help the child?
Is tenure based on successfully testifying?
Families have no choice other than to send their children to schools and to allow them to work with these professionals. By law, families have to send the child to school, and services may be necessary to attend school. School Districts decide where the child attends, and policy is that almost disabled students must mainstream with the professionals above providing services. How can families know that people working with their children at school are really working for the child?
PAUSD pays the salaries and fees for PAUSD employees and contractors to testify, and for days PAUSD lawyers to prepare them to testify? Special Education, by policy does not bring in substitutes for Resource Room teachers, OT, and SLPs when gone. Were services for students performed when they testified and prepared to testify?
These are questions raised by reading Judge Jones' decision. They are questions, not any comment on who is right or wrong in the case.


Posted by Special needs mo , a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 14, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Dear cam
Unless you have walked in the shows of a special needs parents, reserve your thoughts and comments unless they support special needs parents. No one knows more about their special needs child more than the parents!!!! No ONE not you, the school, the physician, neighbor.

After you have volunteered with special needs kids for 3 or so years, you can start to comment.


Posted by Alice Schaffer Smith, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 15, 2014 at 9:17 am

Alice Schaffer Smith is a registered user.

In 1978-9 in Boxall v San Mateo .... I won a summary judgment ruling of first impression in Federal District Court in SF which required that district and State of CA to provide education suited to a child's unique needs: again, a case of a severely autistic child.

What is needed is education for all children suited to their unique needs. I hope each child has a program which excites his or her creative and intellectual growth in PAUSD.

Perhaps mediation with the parents might have been more cost-effective, and for all I know, was tried after the prior administrative hearing. I hope that the district will move on and help this child settle into Palo Alto; one might argue that the district used its best judgment and in this instance, the court said they were wrong. In my case, the parents also exhausted their administrative remedies, lost and went to court. It is their right and the district thought it would win, otherwise they wouldn't have used resources to fight further, one assumes.




Posted by My Take, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 15, 2014 at 10:00 am

Special Needs Mom, Actually, special needs students are part of this community, and we are all involved in financing and making sure the education we provide is adequate, and that their civil rights are being upheld. Therefore our opinions matter, and we do have the right to put forth our opinions. While the parents of a special needs child do have a close view of the issues with regard to that child, because we have these obligations, it is in the best interest of the students that we take an interest and weigh in, even when we disagree with the parents or the educators. Although I am all for making sure every child has access to a good education, in this case it does appear that what the parents are demanding is very expensive. I agree that mediation might have been a better course of action in working out an approach that would best serve the student without draining the budget. Before you comment, as I've said elsewhere, just because there are lots of wealthy people here, this does not mean our schools have unlimited funds. In fact, they rely on PIE to make ends meet. If California schools were well funded, as they should be, Palo Alto schools would also be adequately funded, which they are not. No one student should drain the limited resources we have just because the district and the parents can't work out a good compromise.


Posted by Not complicated, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

All children have a federally enforced right to a public education. The school district is bound by federal law. It's not up to a majority vote, which is a good thing, at least based on the comments in this forum.


Posted by sped parent, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2014 at 10:37 am

Maybe things will get better with the new super. skelly systematically and at times secretly reduced help for LD kids gradually over his tenure in pausd to almost nothing. glad to see the back of him.


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2014 at 10:49 am

@Not complicated - it IS complicated. The devil as usual is in the details, as this case shows, and reasonable people can certainly disagree. The district that does whatever the parents want will end up poorly serving its students, since high-need special ed parents will quickly take full advantage to advocate for their kids, and the expense will create a burden on the district as a whole - not to mention that parents don't always know best how to educate their children (us included, as we've learned many times). While we have had a good experience with PAUSD (special placement for the last 7 years), there was always give and take and not always agreement, and I certainly understand how issues could come to mediation or even litigation. But that is how the system is meant to work and from the little we know of this case, it appears it is working.


Posted by My Take, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 15, 2014 at 11:02 am

Not Complicated, Your comment is not helpful.


Posted by Not complicated, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 15, 2014 at 11:23 am

Fred is erecting a straw man. No one is suggesting draining the district budget to give parents whatever they want. There is no evidence that parents even want services that are far in excess of what they are legally entitled to. The point of federal oversight is to prevent districts from concluding that their desire to spend less money justifies not providing services a student needs to receive an education. That's why we need federal authority on this area.


Posted by My Take, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 15, 2014 at 11:26 am

Not Complicated, Yes, you are suggesting that.


Posted by cap , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2014 at 11:41 am



I would think that there is a cap on how much individualized attention a student can receive (students who do not attend the school at all), and at some point the federal government has to pay as well.

In some countries, you get money back for home-schooling, as long as you adhere to the home school rules. So that's a dollar amount.

I would think that there should be dollar amounts discussed to know exactly how much is being saved or spent, and when it goes above a threshold, it needs to be capped to avert an unfair system to the masses of kids that go to school and adhere to all the rules.


Posted by Not complicated, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 15, 2014 at 11:48 am

Sorry, I was wrong. Both Fred and My Take are relying on a straw man.


Posted by My Take, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 15, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Not Complicated, This is the real world, and a mandate from the Federal government leaves the funding and the details to the locals to work out. If you have so much money that paying for everything that any parent might ask for doesn't seem expensive to you, please set up a trust to cover this. I know of a number of special needs students in our district who are receiving a huge amount of support, which they need, but it costs a great deal. If you are not willing to pay for it yourself, to pretend that this expensive reality is a straw dog is childish and unrealistic. We adults have to find ways to make this work for all concerned, since the funds, in the real world, are not unlimited.


Posted by Not complicated, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 15, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Since no one is actually advocating "paying for everything that any parent might ask for," it's a straw man. We don't even have parents asking for unlimited expenditures. I get why you would like to argue against these fictional infinite demanders and their enablers, but they don't exist. Sorry.


Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 15, 2014 at 12:29 pm

To Schools about Kids not Egos -- I'm not sure if this is what the other user was referring to, but I assume it was. Despite the fact the article lists that the family wished for a continuation of the plan, what they requested in PAUSD appears to be many more hours of instruction.
Under the old plan -- "15 hours per week of ABA instruction in the home
15 hours per week of ABA instruction in the home
2 hours per week of supervision of the home ABA program
2 hours per week of speech language therapy
2 hours per week of occupational therapy"
For a total of 21 hours.


The lawsuit (linked below) says the following:
"As proposed resolutions Student sought the continued provision of an
in-home educational program designed to meet his unique educational needs
arising from his disability, including, 40 hours per week of ABA therapy, 2 hours per week of individual speech and language services and 2 hours per week of
individual occupational therapy services."
For a total of 44 hours.

Seems like different plans to me, but please correct me if I'm wrong because I'm a bit confused about the differences between lawsuit text and the coverage. Web Link


Posted by My Take, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 15, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Not Complicated, I see the problem. You aren't just pretending there are unlimited funds, you are pretending we have no special needs students here in Palo Alto who are in need of an equal education. If you were to read the article, you might become aware of a student who lives here, and whose educational needs and how to meet them are in dispute.


Posted by digging around, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2014 at 1:00 pm

C

For now, the family is asking for the same services its child had in the last school district -- 21 hours at home -- UNTIL its case asking for more - 44 hours - is resolved.

Here is what I found about the "hours" in the Weekly article on this in March:

Weekly: "the family is seeking "…40 hours a week of ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy, two hours per week of individual speech and language services and two hours per week of individual occupational therapy services.'" – 44 hours/week

My Take,

Comments in below that article:

"another parent: as a parent of a child with allergies and as a former special education teacher… I provided in home services to medically fragile children, with the goal always being to get them into a group setting. Some children received a combination of both individual and group services as they progressed. … everyone has to be realistic about the incredible expense of individual home based education and how a district has to reserve that money for the most critical of children. I cannot fathom any student needing 40 plus hours of services every week, as the Weekly article references, and where on earth that money would come from. We have over 10,000 children in this district that all need to be educated."

"SpEd parent: As a parent of a kid in the district with a similar profile… he does have a right to home schooling. However I think the parents are living in fantasy land with how many hours they are expecting the school district to fulfill at home. At least at elementary school level, kids barely even have 30 hours of school in total/ week incl recess, let alone 40 hours of ABA, 2 hrs speech and 2 hrs OT, they are lucky to have half that for OT and speech and maybe 15hrs of ABA."

Web Link


Posted by Case Decision, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 15, 2014 at 4:38 pm

@spedparent
Is the new superintendent bound to use only one law firm? Can a District have a contract with more than one and shift work if it's not happy with one of them?
Carlsbad Unified School District halted it's contract with firm Fagen Fulquist:
Web Link

Is the firm Lasano Smith also PAUSD's Special Education attorney? If so, is this the same firm filing supreme court briefs related to NSBA?
Web Link
Web Link



Posted by honest question, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jul 15, 2014 at 4:56 pm

"he does have a right to home schooling."

Really? I know parents have a right homeschool kids but then the district no longer pays for it. Or does the district pay for homechooled children and how does cost that compare to what they pay per student for those in class?

If these parents want to homeschool their child, they should be able to do so. Why is the district challenging that?


Posted by Were it my Child, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 15, 2014 at 5:01 pm

If this were my special needs child, I would leave Palo Alto, which is a stingy school district when it comes to Special Ed kids ( thanx to Kevin Skelly).

South Asian families usually pick the best districts, and right now those are San Ramon and Cupertino, from careful observation.

My kids are grown, but my grandkids, one of whom is learning impaired and deaf, go to Sunnyvale and Cupertino schools, where the IEP is easier to get into than Palo Alto.


Posted by not a magnet district, a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2014 at 5:12 pm

I wouldn't go to Cupertino if you have a special needs child. Don't know much about Sunnyvale but Cupertino is a lot more stringent than Palo Alto. There are currently 14 open special ed hearings against Cupertino School District. I'm surprised you haven't heard of how bad it is for special ed kids there.


Posted by Really?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Kids that are so severely disabled that they *require* home-schooling and therapists rather than teachers should not fall under the jurisdiction of the public school system. Therapy is not education and education is not therapy.

I'm not opposed to public funding for severe special needs kids, but I don't think mainstream education and ABA/occupational therapy belong in the same system.


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2014 at 10:53 pm

@Not Complicated - We'll give the courts the good news they can take the rest of the year off, since the special education laws simply aren't that complicated ;-) What's your take on the situation in the Middle East? Let me guess - it's not complicated?


Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2014 at 11:03 pm

@Really - ABA is a genuine educational method for a narrow set of kids. So I would say it does have a role in IEPs and the schools (at home or on a school site). That said, you make a good point, that there are a variety of therapies (including occupational, physical, equine, music, etc.) which get included in IEPs sometimes that are not really what I would call "education." We've been called on this in a couple of IEP situations, where the school pushed back on something we wanted that, while no doubt helpful, was not really educational. It is a fair point, though I know from personal experience that parents trying to get the best services for their children don't always appreciate the distinction.

There's a bigger question about whether local districts should bear the cost of special education generally, since it leads to perverse incentives for both schools and parents (the former to deny services, the latter to shop districts for the most accommodating). It has always seemed more sensible for funding to come from the state level to pool to risk. I've never seen a real effort to address that issue though.


Posted by Palo Alto mom, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2014 at 11:26 pm

Dear my take
Cost is important. Can you tell me how much pie funds go to special needs children? Also, can you tell me how much special needs parents pay EXTRA for services such as speech tx, special needs camps, behavior it's, etc.

In other words, these parents have enough costs and want the best for their child. Don't talk finances unless you gave walked in their shoes. Remember, these parents pay property taxes that support schools and many give large sums to pie.


Posted by My Take, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 15, 2014 at 11:54 pm

Palo Alto Mom, Many parents find the particular situation their child brings has huge costs associated with it. However, that does not make the rest of us responsible for covering them.

Our society has decided that the community owes every student access to an equal education. As I have said before, I believe California schools should be funded well enough to provide this for every student. But they are not. Rather than try and convince everyone else to pay for all of the extra expenses that come with a special needs child, we should all be discussing how to change our tax laws by closing loopholes that keep corporations from paying their fair share, so that every student has access to a good education.

I can not support your suggestion that others should be forced, through the school system by use of civil rights laws, to pay all of the extra costs, in addition to education, that are accrued by families with special needs children. This is simply not reasonable. Until we have succeeded in amending the tax laws so that our schools are funded, we have to make the best and most equitable use of the funds that are available. There is not enough in the budget to pay for every cost associated with a special needs child.

Their educational needs must be met as is called for by the civil rights laws, but not every expense falls into this category.

As for PIE, the reason we have it is, as I mentioned, because our schools do not have enough money. Show me in the budget where there is extra money for unlimited services to special needs students as dictated by their parents. And don't say the superintendent's salary. Although we pay the going rate, it is barely enough to get by in this area.


Posted by Schools are about kids not efos, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2014 at 2:21 am

Regardless of all the great points above about fixing the system, this family is raising a child now, within the confines of this system. Knowing how backwards PAUSD is with allergy, and that there are no full-time school nurses on-sites, I wouldn't put a nonverbal kid with those allergies in an in-school program either. PAUSD isn't the kind of place where a cooperative relationship broke down over a disagrement. Our special ed people are more the shoot first ask questions later types, and the legal advice creates a culture of bad faith from the top down. Who would trust their child's life to people with that kind of mindset? Fighting a suit is arduous and expensive for families even more than districts. For every one that prevails, there are far more who gave up.

There are two kinds of mindsets when sharing resources, argue over the pieces of the pie, or make the pie bigger. This is a wealthy district and if we really don't have the resources to cover special ed without chopping basic services, then we can quantify the need and take it to the parent community. I don't think that's the problem, though.


Posted by Palo Alto resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2014 at 8:16 am

When you look at a lot of the services a severely handicapped student needs, many of them should really be covered by health insurance and not a school district.


Posted by sanity please, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 16, 2014 at 8:38 am

We need a board that understands the importance of working with special education families not suing them, and also understands the district's legal, moral and ethical obligations in this regard. Among the known candidates at this time only Ken Dauber has publicly taken a stand for special education families, and for sensible governance. The other candidates have either claimed that they don't know enough (not credible) or have persistently sided with Skelly against special education families.

We need real leadership on the school board to steer a better course. After the past 2 years, it is hard to argue with this point. It seemed that last time people voted for Heidi and said "what could go wrong." [Portion removed.]

That's what could go wrong. We need someone smart, committed, and capable like Ken Dauber on the board now more than ever. We need to dig out of this mess. And pronto.


Posted by My Take, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 16, 2014 at 10:05 am

We need a board that understands the importance of working with all kinds of people, administrators, teachers, people with different opinions, and all parents, including parents of special education students - not suing them, and also understands the district's legal, moral and ethical obligations to provide a good education to all students, not just a few. Among the known candidates at this time only Ken Dauber has publicly taken a stand for special education families, while allowing the rest of the district's needs to be ignored [portion removed.]

We need real leadership on the school board to steer a better course. After the past 2 years, it is hard to argue that Ken Dauber was not a significant cause of strife, wasted time, and creating a bigger rift between the district and the families it serves. [Portion removed.] We need to dig out of this mess in an adult way that is a win for everybody, especially the students. All of them.


Posted by Civility please, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 16, 2014 at 10:53 am

Some corrections are in order. "sanity please" is wrong on one count. Ken Dauber was not the only school board candidate to take a stand for cooperation with the Office for Civil Rights rather than confrontation. Gina Dalma also took that position: Web Link. It is true that the other two candidates declined to give an opinion.

"My Take" seems to be resorting to unfounded personal attacks on Dauber [portion removed] when as far as I can tell he has simply advocated a different policy direction than the school board and two of the other candidates. It's ironic that she wraps this in plea to candidates to "take a stand against the practice of character assassination of anyone who may disagree with them."

I hope that this election won't be characterized by an attempt to create resentment against special education families. They have enough of a burden to carry without being vilified for absorbing an unfair share of our collective resources.


Posted by Paly grad, a resident of Professorville
on Jul 16, 2014 at 12:01 pm

I have a child with special needs. I have to agree with "Civility please": "I hope that this election won't be characterized by an attempt to create resentment against special education families. They have enough of a burden to carry without being vilified for absorbing an unfair share of our collective resources."

Some people here, "My Take" in particular, are working hard to create the idea that parents like me are trying to break the bank by demanding services far in excess of what our children need for our education. That is not true. We work with district staff to figure out what my son needs. If we disagree we discuss it. If we still disagree we could go to a Due Process hearing, but that is time consuming at least and not worth doing unless we think we would win. No one is getting a sackful of cash and prizes. I don't understand all of the politics here but My Take seems to be trying to scapegoat special ed parents as responsible for the district's budget issues. Not true and pretty offensive.


Posted by My Take, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 16, 2014 at 3:07 pm

"Paly grad"

I am offended that you misstated what I have written here.

Civility Please,

When Dauber decided to run for office, his actions became a matter for discussion. It is not an attack to summarize the things he has been doing, particularly when it is true.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 16, 2014 at 4:38 pm

@My Take
It may be a wasted effort to get you to recognize that others have read your words on this thread and taken them quite differently from how you portray them. Although I'm not a parent of a special needs kid in our schools, Paly Grad's characterization of your comments seems valid. For example, you argued that we cannot have "unlimited services to special needs students as dictated by their parents". Since no one has argued for "unlimited" services, this claim sure sounds like a red herring and does suggest that special needs parents are trying to break the bank.
It would be better if we kept the rhetoric toned down.


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2014 at 4:47 pm

The parents of this child are asking for 8 1/2 hours a day of various types of therapy and teaching all to be done in their home with just their child. That may not be unlimited, but it is far different than the 6-7 hours a day most students get in a group setting. If that is what their child truly needs, then that is what he should get. But the District seems to feel that he would be better served by interacting with more people than his parents and 1 or 2 providers. When I think of how much my kids have learned from their fellow students, I would agree that a school setting is more conducive to learning than most homes.


Posted by sanity please, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 16, 2014 at 7:04 pm

"I would agree that a school setting is more conducive to learning than most homes."

Sure, unless the child has such severe allergies that he could come home dead.

Which is the case here.

My vote is with Dauber. We have had enough of trying to scapegoat special ed families. The district wastes hundreds of thousands hounding these poor people with lawyers instead of teaching foreign language to elementary school (remember that?), having art and music, serving decent school lunches, opening more elementary schools. There are so many better things that our school district could be doing with taxpayer money than spending it on lawyers to shame and hound the families of special need students.


Posted by parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 16, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Part of me hopes that Dauber wins. Then he will realize that he has to represent every child. Part of that will mean that you can't do the absolute right by every child because it will be at the expense of another child. In the real world, funding is not infinite. Choices must be made and they are hard choices. I truly believe that most districts try to do their best, but they are also dealing with parents who see that their child is not successful as others, therefore, they must be tested (very expensive). [Portion removed.]


Posted by reality check, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2014 at 9:05 pm

"The other candidates have either claimed that they don't know enough (not credible) or have persistently sided with Skelly against special education families. "

Dauber's part of the problem! We don't need a candidate that makes decision without knowing the facts. The idea that he knows enough to say what is required is a joke. One of the main points in the resolution was that the limitations on what the board could say. For a candidate then to turn around without that knowledge and say "we should do this" just smacks of arrogance.

We need a clean slate with independent candidates who can come in and deal with the district's problems. [Portion removed.]


Posted by My Take, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 17, 2014 at 1:03 am

Parent, they are my words. It is up to me to portray them. You don't get to imbue other people's words with meanings you prefer just because they make you uncomfortable. If a student's parents are asking for an equal education, and not an unreasonable set of services unrelated to that, the request should stand up to scrutiny. If not, then it will become apparent as light is shed on the particulars of the situation. To expect our community to undergo a reasonable process in coming to such decisions is prudent and realistic. Not all requests for services are unreasonable, as I have pointed out again and again. Neither are all requests appropriate. A process is called for. This is how adults go about the business of working to reach the best outcome. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Paly mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 17, 2014 at 10:11 am

Given the amount of effort that the last two posters have put into distorting other people's words and positions, including candidates, special ed parents and other posters: there is a lot of irony going on here. How about just taking some responsibility and not trying to spin and distort?


Posted by PAUSD parent volunteer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Actually, I think Dauber would be the kind of person who would ensure the board becomes the kind of thoughtful watchdog it is supposed to be and would make the go-along-get-alongs we have in the Board delve into the facts. I really don't get why some people are going after him this way. I've never heard him raise his voice, and he seems like a really reasonable person willing to go out of his way to try to make our district better. I'm planning on voting for him.


Posted by oh, the irony, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2014 at 7:50 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Protections Needed, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jul 17, 2014 at 11:40 pm

What's striking in this case is the number of PAUSD staff and consultants who are not qualified to work with Autism. A psychologist evaluating ten kids with autism a year and working with kids on the autism spectrum does not make that person qualified to treat autism or recommend placement. It is really common for PAUSD to think that because someone is a psychologist or has worked with autism, they are an expert in it. Far from it. Just because they say this many times does not make it true. Lots of people work with pediatricians and can even testify credibly at a hearing when well prepared by a lawyer, but this does not make them doctors.

The Resource Teacher's credential was to teach deaf and blind students, not autism. Saying she could ascertain the needs of a nonverbal child from his expressions and body language - that is so far from appropriate autism practice it's funny. It's just not scientific evidence based practice. 'ABA principles were incorporated into the classroom instruction.' What does that mean? Are the teachers certified ABA professionals or not? Behaviorists testified, two who are not certified and one who is related to to the un-certified behaviorist testifying. Any parents would need to be cautious of their recommendations.

What this case reveals is the lack of checks and balances at taxpayer expense. All these staff and contractors report to the Director of Special Education, Holly Wade. She is their supervisor. In PAUSD, once a child is in Special Education the psychologists and behaviorists working with them report to Special Education, and and not to qualified, licensed psychologists or to Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA). PAUSD does not have to use ABA techniques, so unsupervised para professionals can say and do what they want. Staff are under tremendous pressure to say the child can be mainstreamed and reduce or stop services, to be attributed to Special Education's miraculous self claimed success with autism by limiting services and using staff who are not appropriately trained.

Parents might assume staff are under an independent department and supervision of professionals in their fields, and using published, transparent guidelines and evidence based techniques, but this is not the case. Autism is a free for all in PAUSD. Powerful lobbyists ensure no regulations require evidenced based techniques or supervision. Instead, staff all fall under the Director of Special Education, the same person with power to stop resources for a disabled child and to sue parents of the disabled children with a half million dollar legal budget if they do not do what the District wants. These are people who may come into a child's home, and know everything about their lives and their relatives lives. If families do not allow unlicensed and un-certified staff access to their child, along with their quasi-scientific conclusions, they are told PAUSD will refuse the child help and will blame parents in court. In situations where life and death is at risk, as it is here, parents have to be cautious.

With no checks and balances, no separate supervisor trained in evidence based practices and ethics of the specialty fields, parents have no where to go for help. When there are staff problem parents must go to, you guessed it, the Director of Special Education, who has the power to halt resources and sue parents with a half million dollar legal budget. It is absolute power over a disabled child.


Posted by digging around, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2014 at 7:04 am

My read is that PAUSD agreed to provide the same services - the "stay put" - that the child received before coming here: 21 hours a week and not the 44 they are asking for now.

The family will eventually have to convince a judge why the 21 hours which were "appropriate" in their prior school district now needs to be doubled.

They will also debate in court whether an autistic student with allergies can be educated at school, where for instance the school can monitor the therapists, instead of at home where it cannot. This will be in the context of the federal law which, per the National Resource Center for Health and Safety, requires that special education students be educated in the "least restrictive environment."

Lots of impressive groups have given lots of thought as to whether schools can be made safe for students with allergies including kindergarteners whose behavior is often unpredictable and does not respond to reason too.

One, the Allergy Network, says that schools can and should be made allergy-save for all students. Its detailed guidelines were written with input from the US Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and even the OCR. Makes sense. That way all students with life-threatening allergies are protected at school. So if this student's school is made allergy safe then that part of the family's concern should be addressed I'd think.

As for his/her autism, the federal goal is inclusion of children with special health care needs and disabilities. "All children should be included in all activities possible unless a specific medical contraindication exists...Studies have found the following benefits of inclusive child care: Children with special needs develop increased social skills and self-esteem; families of children with special needs gain social support and develop more positive attitudes about their child." National Resource Center for Health and Safety summarizing the legal requirements and rationale for them.

Likely questions that the family will need to answer to inform the judge's decision:

Has the child had an anaphylactic reaction or are the parents afraid that he/she will?

Is the environment at home conducive to learning? Are there young children at home or do parents run a business from their house? Is there a dedicated space where the student can concentrate? Is there at least one non-working parent at home during the day who will oversee the instruction and services?

The level of care the family provides will be relevant too. Is the child ever placed in group settings outside of school without the careful "allergy-safe" precautions the family desires - i.e., taken to parks, taken to restaurants, taken to movies, attend group enrichment classes? Are all the caregivers the family hires licensed and vetted nurses and therapists or does the family hire kids in the neighborhood to babysit sometimes?


Posted by Protections Needed , a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jul 18, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Federal law does not say mainstreaming in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is absolutely required or appropriate in all instances. A student may need to be placed in a more restrictive environment if they cannot be educated in mainstream classrooms with accommodations and services. Some reasons for this can be danger to themselves, danger to other students, disruptive behavior which stops them from gaining educational benefit in the mainstream setting, has a negative effect on teacher, prevents other students from learning. (These are just by way of example, not a complete list.) OAH case decisions are very clear on this point.
PAUSD's Special Education's reaction is to always say Federal law requires only the neighborhood school as LRE. It is not the complete story, but Special Education is sadly not transparent about this. Danger is the result.

Although placement is supposed to be a team decision with parents, in PAUSD it is not. The person who decides that PAUSD's placement is appropriate is the Director of Special Education. The employees who make recommendations such as psychologists, behaviorists, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists all work for her, without reporting to specialists in their own fields following a code of ethics. If the Director of Special Education (who does not work with the student) refuses help for the student, the people she pays will say it also.

This is not a comment on the merits of this case overall, just that LRE is not always the best option or required by law.

"To provide the LRE, school districts must ensure, to the maximum extent appropriate: 1) that children with disabilities are educated with non-disabled peers; and 2) that special classes or separate schooling occur only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. (20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(5)(A); 34 C.F.R. 300.114 (a); Ed. Code, § 56031.) To determine whether a special education student could be satisfactorily educated in a regular education environment, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has balanced the following factors: 1) "the educational benefits of placement full-time in a regular class;" 2) "the non-academic benefits of such placement;" 3) "the effect [the student] had on the teacher and children in the regular class;" and 4) "the costs of mainstreaming [the student]." (Sacramento City Unified School Dist. v. Rachel H. (9th Cir. 1994) 14 F.3d 1398, 1404 (Rachel H.) [adopting factors identified in Daniel R.R. v. State Board of Ed. (5th Cir. 1989) 874 F.2d 1036, 1048-1050]; see also Clyde K. v. Puyallup School Dist. No. 3 (9th Cir. 1994) 35 F.3d 1396, 1401-1402 [applying Rachel H. factors to determine that self-contained placement outside of a general education environment was the LRE for an aggressive and disruptive student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Tourette's Syndrome].)

" If it is determined that a child cannot be educated in a general education environment, then the LRE analysis requires determining whether the child has been mainstreamed to the maximum extent that is appropriate in light of the continuum of program options. (Daniel R.R. v. State Board of Ed., supra, 874 F.2d at p. 1050.) The continuum of program options includes, but is not limited to: regular education; resource specialist programs; designated instruction and services; special classes; non-public, non-sectarian schools; state special schools; specially designed instruction in settings other than classrooms; itinerant instruction in settings other than classrooms; and instruction using telecommunication in the home or instruction in hospitals or institutions. (Ed. Code, § 56361.)"


Posted by Enoguh is Enoguh, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 19, 2014 at 12:05 am

Holly Wade and her employees much to out and follow Skelly. They do not think about the rest of the students, they just care about winning without thinking what the cost is going to be. The money they spend on lawyers should have been spend on services for the students or to protect special ed. students from bullying.


Posted by Anonymous22, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2014 at 2:18 am

Anonymous22 is a registered user.

"One, the Allergy Network, says that schools can and should be made allergy-save for all students. Its detailed guidelines were written with input from the US Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and even the OCR. Makes sense. That way all students with life-threatening allergies are protected at school. So if this student's school is made allergy safe then that part of the family's concern should be addressed I'd think."

That's right. But SHOULD is not the same as DOES, and this district DOES NOT when it comes to allergy.

Isn't this child a middle school student? Our middle schools are HORRIBLE when it comes to awareness and creation of healthy, low-allergy environments.

Anaphylactic/food allergy, allergy, and environmental asthma often go hand in hand. Statistically, children with autism have higher rates of asthma. "Children with both food allergies and asthma are at increased risk for severe anaphylaxis, including fatal and near-fatal anaphylaxis, particularly if the asthma is uncontrolled." Web Link Web Link

Please realize, I think we have great teachers and school staff, and they do care, but to anyone who has any familiarity with normal allergy and asthma issues, our middle schools SCREAM of ignorance in that regard. In my experience, especially at the district office, staff are just mostly ignorant when it comes to allergy, asthma, and creating healthy indoor environments, and not particularly driven to address even the most obvious problems we have at all the middle school sites or interested in adopting even the most uncontroversial and common sense practices and recommendations to prevent allergy and asthma.

Even though they have been asked, our administrators have yet to adopt environmental health and safety tools like the EPA's Tools for schools that can dramatically improve school health "generally at little or no additional cost." Web Link

Tools exist for schools to assess and optimize healthy environments, again, often at little or no additional cost. Our district is in the middle of an expensive upgrade of facilities that promises CHPS standards for new construction (which includes IAQ) and like-new conditions for renovations of old facilities.

Are they eagerly embracing an often low- or no-cost, proven mindset for reducing allergy and environmental health problems in schools? Are they innovating when it comes to creating the best indoor air quality and environmental health for kids? Or do they make parents of the most allergic kids prove their children are already experiencing health damage in the face of completely known and preventable conditions, and then fight them over doing anything about it?

To date, in this district, it has been absolutely the latter. For the parent of a nonverbal child with anaphylactic allergies, it would be like a parent taking a child to a preschool plastered with porn and being promised it will be a safe and nurturing environment for the child to learn how to read. No matter how many nice books the staff promise the child will be given, there's no way to establish trust given the general environment.

Make the environments in our schools, from elementary through high school (and especially in middle) really healthy, so that they show an obvious awareness and care to anyone who knows anything about allergy. Start this week. And give the parents whose child could DIE if regularly in an environment of people who don't know or care about allergy, a year or two to observe the change and to get over having been forced to fight the district legal team in court (talk about destroying trust). Overall, we'll save money just in teacher and student absenteeism because of healthier school facilities. And we'll have spent our money on the right things again. (P.S. The district isn't arguing over the hours in that case, it's position is to put the child in school. It's not a question of 21 hours or something else. That's not a negotiation the district is engaging in. They're not agreeing to 21 hours at home but rejecting 42 or whatever. Given that parents had to engage in such an adversarial battle to continue what they had, it's not unusual to ask for something they could bargain down from if they won on the issue of continuing the program that was working for their child from the last district, and that didn't expose the child to conditions that are currently so untrustworthy when it comes to allergy in our district. Or maybe the child just needed more hours during puberty. None of us knows the specifics of the child -- and that should be what guides the decision, because frankly, we CAN afford it.)


Posted by Anonymous22, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2014 at 2:36 am

Anonymous22 is a registered user.

"The level of care the family provides will be relevant too. Is the child ever placed in group settings outside of school without the careful "allergy-safe" precautions the family desires - i.e., taken to parks, taken to restaurants, taken to movies, attend group enrichment classes? Are all the caregivers the family hires licensed and vetted nurses and therapists or does the family hire kids in the neighborhood to babysit sometimes?"

A) What would you like the family to do to "prove" the child has anaphylactic allergies? Eat something in front of you and die?

B) Living with allergy is a judgment call. Given what I have witnessed in our district and the utter ignorance about allergy, I would personally feel far safer hiring my neighbor's kid who understands allergy or whom I know will honor instructions in my home, than putting an anaphylactic kid in any of our middle schools. Often families whose child was living in the world before an anaphylactic reaction will have a feel for where is relatively safe and where isn't. None of the things you've mentioned would come CLOSE to being as problematic or untrustworthy when it comes to allergy as leaving a child with a serious allergy all day in our middle schools.


Posted by Anonymous22, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2014 at 2:48 am

Anonymous22 is a registered user.

Classic 4 dog defense:
-There are no dogs in the school
-Even if there are dogs in school, you were never bitten.
-Even if you were bitten, our dog didn't do it.
-Even if our dog did bite you, it was your fault.

The Tobacco Industry Provides Ever Valuable Resource Material to PAUSD Legal Team to Fight Parents


Posted by digging around, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2014 at 6:44 am

Anonymous22,

You say: the parents may be "asking for something they could bargain down" from.

For folks who wonder why PAUSD challenges some families' demands instead of just giving all families what they ask for because they know what is best for their child, it is because, as you said, sometimes families ask for more than their child needs.

Lots of families send allergic children to our schools. PAUSD put Epipens at each site and my child's school has explicit protocols about hand washing and banned foods that go into place when a highly allergic student is in the same class.

Web Link

Assuming that the whole school cannot be made allergy-safe, the more cost-effective solution for a family who chooses isolation, as in this case, would be to dedicate a classroom to the child which is sanitized daily where access is limited to the student, his/her parents and staff. That would be far less expensive than sending teachers to each allergic student's home.

BTW I doubt that PAUSD's teachers and staff are less responsible than the 13 year old babysitter down the street. They are required to provide a safe environment, they are trained, they are older and with that wiser, and their eyes aren't glue to Facebook.


Posted by digging around, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2014 at 7:44 am

Anonymous22,

You say "frankly, we CAN afford it." Really?

Homeschooling each highly allergic child could cost the district $20 million a year - $50k/student/year x 3% of students who are at high risk of an anaphylactic reaction.

That $20 million =s 200 classroom teachers, who teach 5,000+ students a day.

They would need to be reassigned and have their salaries cut in 1/2 for PAUSD to free up money to give one-on-one home instruction to 400 highly allergic students. More than double that if PAUSD does the same for all allergic students who might have an anaphylactic reaction sometime too.

Possible but practical or prudent? The removal of 200 teachers from the classroom would result in shuttering schools (an elementary school employs about 25 teachers) and doubling the student count with classrooms going from about 25 to 50 students each if PAUSD opted for one-on-one home instruction for those 400 highly allergic students in our district.


Posted by digging around, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2014 at 8:06 am

Protections needed,

You say "placement is supposed to be a team decision with parents."

Not according to the US Department of Education:

"If the parents do not agree with the IEP and placement, they may discuss their concerns with other members of the IEP team and try to work out an agreement.

If they still disagree, parents can ask for mediation, or the school may offer mediation.

Parents may file a complaint with the state education agency and may request a due process hearing, at which time mediation must be available."


Posted by digging around, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2014 at 8:36 am

Parks and highly allergic children:

Web Link

Web Link


Posted by digging around, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2014 at 10:03 am

Protections Needed,

Your citations don't lead from A (the least restrictive environment for severely autistic children) to B (means at home).

In Rachel H, the appropriate placement was full-time in a regular classroom with some supplemental services.

In the Clyde case the court OKed a TEMPORARY placement of a disabled student, who repeatedly assaulted and sexually harassed students at school, to an off-campus "self-contained PROGRAM" to protect students at the school. This was not a one-on-one home placement either.

The third case you mention was not about home placement either. That case explained that:

"Congress left the choice of educational policies and methods where it properly belongs--in the hands of state and local school officials."

"Congress created a strong preference in favor of mainstreaming."

Schools "cannot always offer them the same educational opportunities that regular education offers nonhandicapped children [and] need not provide every conceivable supplementary aid or service to assist the child"


Posted by Anonymous22, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Anonymous22 is a registered user.

@digging around,
Oh brother, you are creating a scenario that doesn't exist. There is no stampede of 3% of families in the district who want to do as you've said. Do we have 3% anaphylactic children? I'll bet they aren't all also severely autistic and nonverbal like this child. Usually, parents are pushing to keep the child at school and the district won't do what those children need. This is one family, with one child, and is $50,000 all we are talking about here, because the legal costs and staff time costs appear to dwarf that. And you'll never know the costs related to the ill will in donation PAUSD will never get for being such chiselers when it comes to doing the right thing.

In fact, $50,000 would probably more than cover changing a highly allergenic school to one with good environmental health and good air quality, and we make it back pretty quickly from fewer absentee days by staff and better facility wear -- and it's chicken feed in the face of spending $40 million on a gym for one school site, when we built a new one at the other school site for $12 million just recently.

You appear to be digging around everywhere but here. In this case, the best placement appears to be home, and the child's previous district agreed. You have completely avoided dealing with the fact that our school administrators are not exactly on the ball when it comes to allergy, and our allergenic school environments that could pretty easily be improved with easily available tools are de facto evidence. If the district spent just a fraction of this effort on just making safe, low-allergy environments at our schools, all the kids would reap the health benefits, and you might find the environment of trust that develops also creates other options.

I give you again the analogy that this is like asking a preschool parent to put a small child in a facility plastered with porn while promising up and down that you're going to give them a safe and nurturing education. You can't expect the parent to trust what you are promising in light of what you aren't doing, especially if you then take the parent to court instead of just acting in goodwill and fixing the environment.

Rather than repeat myself, I invite you to
1) read my previous post, and
2) let the Weekly take a tour this week of the middle schools with a group of parents who themselves have serious asthma and environmental allergies, and publish the grade they give the buildings. Give them a real chance to sit on some of the old carpets where the kids do, for example. Note any comments about reactions and mildew smells. Then give all that info to the family. And their lawyer. At the very least, it might finally get you and admin to see what that family must see when the consider whether to just trust you with their child's life.


Posted by Anonymous22, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Anonymous22 is a registered user.

You said, "For folks who wonder why PAUSD challenges some families' demands instead of just giving all families what they ask for because they know what is best for their child, it is because, as you said, sometimes families ask for more than their child needs. "

Please don't mischaracterizing what I said to make sweeping generalities.

My comment was limited to what happens in a court case, nothing whatsoever to do with the negotiation between the school district and parents beforehand, where this should have been worked out -- erring on the side of working with the family short of putting them through waging a court battle. For all you know, the family has to ask for more hours now because one of the spouses has to work more to pay for the lawyers to force the district to continue the education the child needs and had in the previous district.

Secondly, the district isn't in court arguing over how many hours the child needs at home. That's not even the argument. The district is arguing that the family should send a nonverbal child with autism and life-threatening allergies to a school site that has pretty common and straightforward-to-deal-with allergy/asthma-inducing conditions, in a district where the administration (with an enormous construction budget at its disposal and a promise to bring the schools sites to new condition, no less) is disinterested in taking inexpensive, California-Department-of-Education-recommended steps to optimize environmental health and air quality. No matter what you SAY about how you will care for this nonverbal child with life-threatening allergies, what you are DOING speaks much louder and says the district talks a big game but doesn't bother to walk the walk when it comes to even the easy allergy measures.

You wrote "Assuming that the whole school cannot be allergy-safe"
-- But that's just the problem here, the whole school CAN be made allergy safe, with fairly noncontroversial practices that benefit all children, if only the district administration would bother. But to anyone who has a seriously allergic child, there's just a fairly high level of ignorance and disinterest when it comes to allergy at the top in this district. It's a lack of will, not that it would be so hard to make allergy-safe schools. Again, not exactly trustworthy behavior when you are asking the family to put their child's life in your hands.

You wrote: "the more cost-effective solution for a family who chooses isolation, as in this case, would be to dedicate a classroom to the child which is sanitized daily where access is limited to the student, his/her parents and staff. "
--First of all, where would such a classroom come from for one child? Do you appreciate how expensive space is in this area? Overhead to maintain the space? I'm aware of other allergy situations where the child simply lost out on their equal education because the family didn't fight, because the school claimed there was no other place for the child to go even for an hour.

Secondly, you have just argued vociferously against the home placement because you think isolation isn't in the child's best interest, yet you would put the child in a sanitized strange truly isolated environment rather than being in a safe, familiar place (home), a place that is already, without additional expense, safe for the child? (And if staff are going to be dedicated to that room, why does it matter costwise if they are there or at the child's home?)

Thirdly, in regards to making a truly allergy-friendly environment without the usual unmitigated asthma triggers in our schools, you would have to upgrade the room itself with the same inexpensive, common sense measures the district could be taking everywhere — and if district administrators finally "get it" for one room, why not for the whole school? Why not start today creating a trustworthy environment and trustworthy practices so that the family might consider the district's proposal in the future if that is truly in the child's best interests?

Fourth, isolating the child to a classroom as you said without fixing the allergenic environment overall in the school would mean creating almost clean-room practices, avoiding having teachers and staff or air move between the classroom and other rooms. If staff spends time in an allergenic classroom and moves into that room, they would essentially blow the whole setup. You cannot argue that maintaining that safely would be less expensive or "least restrictive" compared to the child's safe home environment.

Lastly, it's ludicrous for us to be even talking about the district engaging in such meticulous practices, when it's clear they are essentially ignorant/disinterested when it comes to all the easy, low-hanging fruit to make our school sites healthy in regards to asthma and allergy. If they don't want to clean up the schools for the basics, claiming they can and know how to meet such a high standard is just not trustworthy.

If the school district had behaved in a trustworthy manner, I suspect we would not be wasting money on lawyers over the dispute now. Or putting this family through was is almost certainly hell to try to educate their child safely.





Posted by digging around, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Anonymous22,

Big, big picture: It sounds like the district is attempting to serve this child's needs. The two points of contention are: 44 vs. the 21 hours the student got in his old district and whether he/she should be schooled in-home or in school with accommodations because of the allergies.

Otherwise I am not tracking you.

First, how do you know that this child has "life-threatening allergies"? Has that been established somewhere for public consumption?

Second, has the district agreed to 44 hours? If not, then it is misleading to say that the number of hours are not at issue.

Third, did the family ask for or the district offer a dedicated classroom for allergy sufferers?

Four, how do you know that the school the child would go to "has pretty common and straightforward-to-deal-with allergy/asthma-inducing conditions" or, for that matter, that the district is "disinterested in taking inexpensive, California-Department-of-Education-recommended steps to optimize environmental health and air quality"?

I'm confused because you next claim that the room would need "almost clean-room practices, avoiding having teachers and staff or air move between the classroom and other rooms." Clean-room conditions are neither "common" nor "inexpensive" and, again, why surmise that it is necessary in this case?

Approximately 8% of children 11-18 years old have a food allergy and 38.7% of them have a history of severe reactions. That pretty much means every school has children with these allergies. Does every school home school their students who have a history of severe reactions or set up a clean-room for them? Web Link

Five, are you saying that a valid reason for the family to get more education hours for their child may be "because one of the spouses has to work more to pay for the lawyers." Don't think it works that way.

Six, wasn't the education that the child had in the previous district 21 hours, not 44, so this is not really "to continue the education the child had in the previous district."

Niggling point too: you said the district should just do what the family asks because it only costs $50,000. $50,000 x years to age 18. If the child is in 3rd grade home-schooling would cost the district $500,000 not $50,000.

I don't know the facts nor do you. Perhaps the old guard was recalcitrant. But PAUSD has a new superintendent and new principals scattered all across town so if the rub is whether a few rooms can be upgraded at a site, the family should ask again. It sounds like a yes to that question might benefit lots of kids.

Curious, what measures do you think are needed?


Posted by costs, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 19, 2014 at 4:12 pm

>and is $50,000 all we are talking about here

No, it's actually far more than that. Closer to $200,000 per year when all costs are added. Just consider the 40 hours a week of in-home ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy. You are talking about a huge amount of money.

That your standpoint is to "just spend this" without challenging the need is mind-boggling.


Posted by Protections Needed, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jul 19, 2014 at 7:26 pm

@digging around - I understand your argument, but are we not bound by the way the U.S. legal system works? Case law is made by court decisions about cases. Judges cites these previous decisions in their own decisions on later cases. The facts or situations do not have to be the same, or the same topic.
Anyone with a legal background, please feel free to pipe in, to confirm or disagree. (Although I am not sure there are more than a few left on this thread.) Also, @digging around, are you an attorney, and are you affiliated with the District in anyway? Your posts sound that way. It would be good to know.


Posted by Protections Needed, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jul 19, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Looking at the motion the judge ruled on that the above article is about Case No. 5:14-cv-00980 HRL, it was a waste of time and money for PAUSD to fight it. Again, this only refers to what the article is about, the motion for an injunction, not the whole case, which is still proceeding in the courts. The injunction related to stay put, and Special Education knows the law requires a stay put while issues are resolved. Special Education has to know this cold, they didn't need to pay an attorney to fight this injunction. The District should have just provided the stay put. That's where they ended up anyway.

Why did the District spend money on this injunction? There is something missing here. Is it an attempt to wear the parents down, to increase the family's legal costs so they will give up, is it an attempt to slow resolution to force the child into Terman?

The longer it takes to resolve the case, the older the child becomes, and the easier it is to force the child into Terman. The risk is the District will control the resources the child receives, and can try to reduce them. Special Education will control the reports and observations of the child, and can easily say their staff all agree child should be at Terman and reduce services. Once a child enters a school in PAUSD, even when it is a bad placement it is still almost impossible to move them to an appropriate placement. Fortunately it does happen sometimes, but not until after much damage has been done.

The fear follows from Special Education using PAUSD taxpayer legal funds to present the OCR Resolution, encouraged by the national school board association. The fear is PAUSD is using legal cases to make public policy changes and alter law. If so, it is understandable PAUSD would want to do that to give itself more power over disabled children and less to families. It would be better if they do that in another avenue without using taxpayer school money.


Posted by Anonymous22, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2014 at 1:20 am

Anonymous22 is a registered user.

@digging,
I asked you to please stop mischaracterizing what I have been saying. Please speak dor yourself, read what I wrote before responding. You are so mangling what I said for your own purposes it's hard to know how to respond. Protections is right, you sound like you are from the district, please clarify. I'd like to engage but ask you to please read what I wrote. For exampke, I only used the number $50,000 because that's thenumber you used. But you keep arguing that somehow all the kids with allergies are going to be asking for 40 hour a week ABAs which us ludicrous and has nothing to do with this family. There is no slippery slope here, only the district screwing this one family with a disabled child.

So, how does one go from $50 k to $200k, costs? Let's assume 40 hrs per week at, what? $50/ hour? That's $2000. $8,000 per month, times 9 months. $72,000. Subtract the cost of what the special ed is for the lower number of hours or the at school special care the district offered. What's the cost differential? $35,000, maybe? Times the 5 remaining years the child is in school, that's $150,000 extra, really less than the district will probably ultimately pay iegal fees to $500/hr lawyers.

If the child's family bought a house when they moved here, for a $1.5 to $4 M typical price range, their per annum taxes are between $22,500 and $60,000, a large chunk of which supports the schools. I'm sure if you gave them or anyone they know in similar straits the choice, they'd pull their money out and pay for the ed their kid needs.

If we think we don't have the money to meet our obligation to special ed students, we have no business spending $40 million on a gym when we just built a gym for the other school for $12 million. Then if we've looked at our expenses carefully, if we still don't have the money, we go to the parent community and ask, would you rather we spend our money harrassing parents of severely disabled students, or just erring on the side of doing the right thing for the students and minimizing our legal fees (and maybe we need to raise funds... Maybe)?

As per allergy, our district admonistrators treat that just like they do everything else, like civil rights laws. They don't want anyone to tell them what to do. But since there are no laws protecting kids from environmental hazards in schools, they do nothing, not even adopt the most basic steps like removing old mildewy smelling carpets.

If your child was immunosuppressed, and needed surgery, would you trust a hospital where you saw doctors regularly wipe their noses and sneeze into their hands, and not wash up before surgery? Even if the place looked nice, even if they swore up and down that the child would be in a special room where they WOULD follow good hygiene, the claim just wouldnt be trustworthy if they didnt ever just comply with good practices as a matter of course.

You havent answered any of my questions and have now gotten back to claiming your dog doesnt bite... Excuse me, trying to claim the child doesnt even have allergies. You sound just like Linda Lenoir, the district nurse, who seems to think the only way to prove it is to give an anaphylactic child the food in front of her and watch the child die before she'll believe it. I know at least one family who decided to leave the district because their child almost died from an allergic reaction from poor classroom practices. They also couldn't get the school to change an old, moldy carpet in the child's classroom causing asthma. The district has never implemented an environmental or air quality management plan, despite parents asking, and despite the recommendation to do so by the CA dept of education and every other health organization you could imagine. They are simply not trustworthy when it comes to allergy.

if you know anything about allergy and spend time in our middle schools, it's as obvious as doctors wiping their noses in front of you and not washing their hands. The easy guidelines to fix things, often at little or no extra cost (think doctors washing hands in the analogy, it's about mindset more than cost) such as the EPAs Tools for Schools, the district has been uninterested in implementing. For the third time, they should first create a trustworthy environment for all the kids, they may find the family more willing to believe them. But actions speak louder than words here.


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jul 20, 2014 at 1:24 am

@Anonymous22 - You wrote above:
"
Classic 4 dog defense:
-There are no dogs in the school
-Even if there are dogs in school, you were never bitten.
-Even if you were bitten, our dog didn't do it.
-Even if our dog did bite you, it was your fault.

The Tobacco Industry Provides Ever Valuable Resource Material to PAUSD Legal Team to Fight Parents.
"

May I recommend movie "Thank You for Smoking"?

Sadly your comment and the movie I mentioned are not disconnected from this thread.



Posted by Anonymous22, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2014 at 1:44 am

Anonymous22 is a registered user.

@village fool,
You have to forgive me, I've seen the movie but can't remember ... Would love your commentary in full (whether I agree or not).


Posted by digging around, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2014 at 6:39 am

Protections Needed,

You say "it was a waste of time and money for PAUSD to fight" the stay put issue.

I don't know how the time or dollars penciled out so can't address that. I don't see this as the district fighting the stay put though. The district honored the meat of the stay put but took issue with where those services would be offered.

If I understand the case right, the district's argument was based on both federal and California special education laws that say schools must provide "services COMPARABLE to those described in the previously held IEP" until a new IEP is in place. The district thought providing the same services, but at school instead of at home, was "comparable."

That argument wasn't out of line. The first judge agreed with PAUSD.



Posted by digging around, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2014 at 6:47 am

Anonymous22,

One. The $20 million price tag, as I posted, is what it would cost the district to educate every highly allergic student in their homes. If the school environment is life-threatening for all highly allergic students as you claim, all their families would want the same for their child. The hours I used in my calculation was the length of a regular school day.

Two. I found the answer to one of my questions in the ruling: "The District offered [services] in an isolated classroom that S.C. could access without contacting other students." Can you answer my other questions?

Three. You mention in your last post something about "forcing the child into Terman." If the services are to be provided at school, why does it matter if the child is at Terman vs. Jordan vs. JLS or in an elementary school?

Four. Are there cases where the court agreed to in-home schooling because of allergies? I think you have it backwards when you say that facts in a prior court case "do not have to be the same, or the same topic" to be helpful in this one.

Five. I am not a PAUSD employee. I am a parent of a child who has allergies. I know about anaphylaxis and have had similar fears for my child. I also know that you are incorrect when you say that a food challenge will result in a child's death. Allergy doctors who want to confirm anaphylaxis give the child a food challenge in a controlled setting, watch to see if he has a serious reaction, and, if he does, administer epinephrine.


Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 20, 2014 at 8:34 am

The legal bill for Fagen Friedman and Fulfrost, the district's hired lawyers for fighting special ed cases, has gone from $25,000 to $250,000 in the last 6 years. Unless special ed families are 10x more likely to make unreasonable demands than 6 years ago, that reflects decisions by Skelly, Young, and Wade, advised by Lenore Silverman, Laurie Reynolds, and company of FFF. A case like this one that is lost in federal district court represents at best incorrect prediction from our lawyers. Are these expenses being driven by poor management at the district, rapacious lawyers, or some combination of both of the above?


Posted by real world, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 20, 2014 at 8:43 am

"$50/ hour?"

Around 4 years ago, we were paying $125 an hour for BCBA. I'd say you'd be paying $150/h now. "Costs" estimate doesn't sound unreasonable. Yours is way too low.

These things cost a lot of money.


Posted by Anonymous22, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Anonymous22 is a registered user.

digging around,
Once and for all, will you please actually read my comments before replying and stop repeating your mischaracterizations?

For example, above you say I wrote something about "forcing a child at Terman" - I have no idea what you are even talking about, I never even mentioned Terman. You are confusing me with another poster because you aren't even bothering to read what I wrote.


You said: "One. The $20 million price tag, as I posted, is what it would cost the district to educate every highly allergic student in their homes. "

Your numbers are just a total dishonest red-herring. You keep ignoring the fact that virtually all the allergic children in the schools are verbal, mainstreamed students. Their families are usually trying to compensate in whatever ways they can to send their kids TO SCHOOL, NOT keep them home. The child in this case is severely autistic and nonverbal, and is thus at much more severe risk. How many severely autistic, nonverbal middle school kids are trying to ask for a continuation of in-home school from a previous district? Is there even more than ONE? You're trying to screw a severely disabled kid out of what they need by arguing a red herring just like our district is. What's the point? Someone should look at how often our district tries to deny services just because the personalities involved don't like the parents. That's not serving children and it's unethical and unprofessional. Ultimately, it costs our district in poor choices in how we spend our money.

But if you think there is a potential for $20 million to keep those kids at home, why do you keep ignoring the fact that our district could be easily creating allergy-friendly environments, at little or no cost to the district, if it adopted healthy environment/good indoor air quality management/food-allergy-friendly practices?

Again you keep avoiding the big issue of TRUST. A family whose child will die if they get even a small amount of the wrong food, and whose child CANNOT SPEAK or advocate for themselves at school, has to be able to trust the district. But in a district that can't be bothered to take care of such inexpensive, low-hanging fruit when it comes to making an allergy-friendly, healthy environment, that can't be bothered to take the most common sense asthma prevention steps, there is no way to create that trust. In a district where the ideas and understanding about allergy and safety are nearly as ignorant and backwards as you have been expressing, there is no way to create that trust.

It's just like a hospital if doctors sneeze into their hands, wipe their hair and noses, and never wash their hands, promising they'll take extra special care for your immunosuppressed child's surgery. It's a completely untrustworthy promise and a child's life is at stake. Doing what is necessary to create that trust will have the side effect of saving huge amounts of money, and achieving the goals of the hospital for everyone, not just the special case. Start there, pay for the child's care instead of high-priced lawyers for two or three years, and if the district has created the trust, then reconsider. The family will have more of a reason to trust the district's claims, and if they don't, the district will be in a better position to claim the family is being unreasonable. Right now, knowing how our district deals with allergy and environmental health in general, and how poorly it works with parents, I completely see where this family is coming from and would prefer we err on the side of caring for the child.

@real world,
Apparently I was low on my estimate of the legal fees by a lot more. My point remains.


Posted by Anonymous22, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Anonymous22 is a registered user.

"The legal bill for Fagen Friedman and Fulfrost, the district's hired lawyers for fighting special ed cases, has gone from $25,000 to $250,000 in the last 6 years. Unless special ed families are 10x more likely to make unreasonable demands than 6 years ago, that reflects decisions by Skelly, Young, and Wade, advised by Lenore Silverman, Laurie Reynolds, and company of FFF. A case like this one that is lost in federal district court represents at best incorrect prediction from our lawyers. Are these expenses being driven by poor management at the district, rapacious lawyers, or some combination of both of the above?"

@ Taxpayer,
That's a very interesting comment you make. I have been observing for awhile that dealing with the district has been eerily like dealing with a bunch of bad faith insurance lawyers. If we spend time getting professional advice, it should be from innovation and educational experts, not lawyers looking for BMW payments. They usually end up making people afraid of their shadows and doing all kinds of stuff, ostensibly to avoid litigation, that invites it.


Posted by Associations, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 20, 2014 at 6:15 pm

CSBA is a member of NSBA, of recent OCR controversy.Dana Tom, PAUSD Board of Education member, is on the Board of Directors of California School Boards Association (CSBA).Web Link

CSBA's Education Legal Alliance of the California School Boards Association. It's web site states it initiates litigation, files friend of court briefs and support legislation. Board of Ed's are charged dues for membership.
Web Link

Most likely PAUSD pays the membership dues for PAUSD to be members of these organizations, which includes initiating litigation and lobbying.

Attorneys (and/or their firm) representing PAUSD were earlier sanctioned for conduct in
Moser v. Bret Harte Union High School District Sanction Order. Parents may want to look up the relationship of all these parties.
From Web Link
"IV. CONCLUSION
The totality of the sanctioned conduct visits an unendurable burden on the justice system in the name of misguided advocacy. It is appropriate that a public record be made of this conduct for the purpose of deterrence, particularly as it implicates unacceptable written advocacy and obstruction which violates rules of court and professional conduct, forcing an opposing party and the court to spend inordinate time addressing such issues.


Posted by Anonymous22, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
13 hours ago

Anonymous22 is a registered user.

"It's just like a hospital if doctors sneeze into their hands, wipe their hair and noses, and never wash their hands, promising they'll take extra special care for your immunosuppressed child's surgery. It's a completely untrustworthy promise and a child's life is at stake. Doing what is necessary to create that trust will have the side effect of saving huge amounts of money, and achieving the goals of the hospital for everyone, not just the special case"

I just want to refer people back to the links I gave above, because in order for us to be the most cost-effective, to get the benefits of being an allergy-friendly, good environmental health, high air quality school district without spending extra money, we really need to adopt the mindset now, before we are done with the construction bond. That will allow us to make good choices that are mindful of creating the healthiest environment as a matter of course. Fixing things later won't necessarily be as cost effective. Where the district has already missed glaring opportunities so far, it only underscores the untrustworthiness of their position in this case.


Posted by Associations, a resident of Downtown North
4 hours ago

PAUSD does not pay ABA cost that high as cited above. It uses it's own aides to provide the service, maybe with a little experience but mostly untrained. They may be supervised by un-certified behaviorists, as discussed in other threads, or by Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs). As the name implies TOSAs have teaching credentials and some training in ABA but are not certified to practice or supervise ABA. Sometimes a behaviorist is brought in who is current or past certified as a behavioral assistant, but usually not. They still should not be supervising aides or other behaviorists, but PAUSD lets them. Behaviorists report to Holly Wade, Director of Special Education, who does not have training to supervise ABA. Sometimes a BCBA will be brought in, but for very limited hours. Finding out even this much information was truly a herculean struggle for families. At least we know that PAUSD is not spending that much because it hires unqualified staff.

The lack of truly trained staff caused many problems in PAUSD. SPED reported it had accomplished full inclusion from day 1 without actually providing the teachers, schools or children support to succeed. The un-certified staff do not understand their ethical requirements, know how to write appropriate reports or present data. They make inappropriate conclusions that children are succeeding and have mastered skills when they have not, not understanding that they base conclusions on inadequate data sample (if they take data at all), or think a child improved permanently based on doing well for a few weeks or doing better than before. They then make inappropriate recommendations children should be mainstreamed or support reduced, as SPED wants them to do. This accounts for incidents of children remaining in classes when they are failing, are too aggressive, and frighten other children. Families struggle to find any trained supervisor to contact, and instead have to talk to Holly Wade who approves services and decides which families to sue.


"Parents may file a complaint with the state education agency and may request a due process hearing, at which time mediation must be available."

You provide a nice summary. Parents fear retaliation for filing a complaint with the State. Mediation is part of Due Process, and is still costly. It involves attorneys to prepare the case and present it to a mediator. A District who sues families of disabled children and then offers them mediation is really not helping the child or family, as it costs $7,000-$12,000 to take a case to mediation. Districts have unlimited taxpayer funds to prepare for mediation to get Districts to do what the right thing they were supposed to be doing all along, families of disabled children do not. Mediation is secret, so we really do not have a way of knowing how many families the District brings to mediation or how much the District spends on it.


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