Tuesday, March 18, 2008

K Files Council: wait list options for kids with special needs

We're submitting an ammended list for Round II as we went 0 for 7 in Round I. As the importance of the wait list school increases (in my mind at least), we are gathering info and advice on schools that have outstanding caring environments for kids with special needs who are in the standard classroom setting. This would be reflected in staff who are not overburdened and overstressed with meeting the variety of needs and goals of their site. Staff with experience accomodating the classroom to meet the special needs of the children, and a principal who works well with teachers and parents in this area.

We are familiar with the schools in our geographic area that have RSP, Inclusion and Special Day Classes. The concern is how to identify that ONE wait list school that has the positive qualities referenced, AND to compare/contrast them with other high quality options . . . so that we feel good about the ammended list and also really dedicated to holding out through the summer for the wait list school. Our wait list candidates are: Fairmount, Alvarado (sp and ge) and Miraloma. The ammended list would include SF Community, Sunnyside, C. Sloate. This should give you an idea of the area of town we are in. BTW, Spanish immersion is REALLY important to us.

If you have knowledge/experience with these schools and/or kids with special needs, it would be great to hear your thoughts.

And, thanks to all for such a supportive and engaged community!

14 comments:

  1. I'm confused. As the parents of a special needs child seeking inclusion, wouldn't your application have run before the rest of the Round 1 applications, thereby insuring that you would receive one of your top choices?

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  2. I'm confused -- what is the placement designation on your child's IEP? You cannot apply to schools without that being already designated on your IEP.

    If it is inclusion, SF Community does not allow inclusion program children to enroll.

    If it is RSP, all schools have RSP support.

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  3. I'm also confused by the question. Is your kid supposed to be in a special day class, in an inclusion program, or just getting RSP support? All three are far different and you can't possibly be allowed your choice of all three. What's it say about placement on your kids' IEP?

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  4. From your description, your child has not been through the IEP process but has special needs that you have identified as a parent? I guess what it would depend on what the special needs are. Your child should be assessed. Different schools have different strengths. I also feel that unless a child is already bilingual, introducing a new language can be very frustrating to a special needs child, but again it depends on the need.
    Best of luck...

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  5. I believe the person asking the question has a child whose needs perhaps don't rise to the level of an IEP, but who would benefit by being at a school with a staff that is experienced and comfortable working with children with extraordinary needs in the general education classroom.

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  6. 9:23
    Thank you for better articulating the scope of the question. The development assessment did not indicate the need for an IEP at this time, yet medical reasons and areas of difficulty presented in pre-school mean that this topic is one of many factors we are considering upon assessing schools. BTW, my understanding of the the enrollment guide is that students eligible for RSP support are run as part of the regular lottery, and are not part of a separate lottery like students applying for special day classes.

    Both parents are bilingual and biliterate (Sp-Eng), and the decision to pursue (or not) an immersion program is an ongoing discussion, and is as yet unresolved. We are remaining open as the developmental changes are so great at this age.

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  7. Ok, thanks for clarifying.

    Yes, if your child has no special education designation, then his application goes in amongst all the others, and that is true for kids getting RSP services too.

    Alvarado and Fairmont and Miraloma have great special ed teachers and programs.

    I don't hear good things about special ed at Sloat.

    SF community only has special Day classes and no inclusion.

    I don't know anything about Sunnyside.

    And I don't know anything really about your situation, but without an IEp it is very hard for kids to get the services they need, and if your kid needs extra help, if they don't have an IEP, that puts a strain on the system. Having an IEP means that the school district has to help your kid, and sets out clearly how that is supposed to happen and who is responsible for it.

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  8. Doesn't Marshall have special ed, too?

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  9. I'm glad that someone has raised the issue of special ed on this website. I've been waiting for this! I was wondering if we could open this up and hear from others about special ed people at their particular elementary school. My son goes to Lakeshore and we have not been really happy with the special ed folks there. We kind of get the feeling too that the principal really doesn't care about special ed -- for example, not attending IEPs, etc. We get the sense that most of the training that the special ed folks get is for kids who are disruptive in class. For my kid, who has ADD such that he simply loses focus but is otherwise a pleasant and agreeable kid, the special ed folks seem woefully unprepared. We are finding it very hard to figure out which elementary school might have better-prepared special ed people. And, to take this further, because my son is designated as an "inclusion" student, the alternatives become much narrower. Not every school, as has been pointed out, offers inclusion. And, to switch to a different elementary, that school not only has to offer inclusion, but there must be an open inclusion slot AND district policy limits inclusion students to one per class. Do the match and it is VERY HARD to switch! (Wish I had known this before we accepted the inclusion designation!) I'd like to hear what others here think about special ed options at the various elementaries. Or if people think there are private schools that can do this better?

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  10. There are private schools that serve kids with special needs -- the Laurel School (K-8), Armstrong (language-based disabilities only), Stanbridge (grades K-12), Sterne (grades 6-12.) Depending on how well SFUSD is serving your child, it may be worth considering some of these schools. They are expensive though. Occasionally, if SFUSD cannot meet a child's needs, they will opt to pay tuition at a private school, but my impression is this doesn't happen very often.

    The school district is way better able to meet most kids needs, whether or not they have an IEP, than the typical private school though. Teachers are quite adept at differentiation both for GATE students, and students who need extra help, because they have a lot of practice doing it. And, they expect to do it, something a private school teacher may resent.

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  11. There are private schools that serve kids with special needs -- the Laurel School (K-8), Armstrong (language-based disabilities only), Stanbridge (grades K-12), Sterne (grades 6-12.) Depending on how well SFUSD is serving your child, it may be worth considering some of these schools. They are expensive though. Occasionally, if SFUSD cannot meet a child's needs, they will opt to pay tuition at a private school, but my impression is this doesn't happen very often.

    The school district is way better able to meet most kids needs, whether or not they have an IEP, than the typical private school though. Teachers are quite adept at differentiation both for GATE students, and students who need extra help, because they have a lot of practice doing it. And, they expect to do it, something a private school teacher may resent.

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  12. I assume your child is already bilingual?

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  13. Original poster is back again..I've been tracking the other threads. Yes, my daughter is mostly bilingual, though English is definately dominant.

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  14. Hi, I'm the one who left a post about frustrations with my kids' special ed professionals at my public school (the March 19th one). I don't know what to tell you about which public school has better special ed folks. There is simply no discussion forum I know of that gets into these issues. And I DO believe, having had a kid with special needs go through the schools for the past three years, that there are BIG differences between public schools in how well they address special ed kids. Our experience has not been a positive one, despite the fact that we have gone through the entire IEP process for years (since our kid was three!). My only reference points are to friends who have special needs kids in other public school systems -- one in Marin and one in Austin, TX. And when I compare notes, it is very clear that their special ed people are FAR MORE proactive and far better trained overall than the special ed folks at my kid's SF public school. Whether that is true of all SF public schools, I don't know. I have one friend at Miraloma who's kid is special ed who has had problems similar to mine. Overall, the special ed folks appear not to be well-trained, to be very passive, and to try to "pigeonhole" kids into slots they don't belong in. I have to say that the posters here are right that your first job is to get an IEP for your kid. Without it, the school will do nothing. But I would also have to suggest you take a good hard look at privates like Laurel and Armstrong that handle special ed kids. Your kid may do better there than in the public schools. I would also repeat my earlier hope that others on this blog could comment about their special ed experiences at SF public schools. ARE there public schools in SF that do special ed really well?

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