Friday, November 20, 2009

Hot topic: Inclusion and kids with IEPs

This from an SF K Files reader:

I have a son with an IEP, and it has been recommended that he be in Inclusion in the general classroom. I would love to find out if anyone knows which Inclusion schools are best, and which ones may have fewer or more spots opening up next year, and how choosing to go with Inclusion affects chances of getting in. I hope you consider this a valid topic.


  1. I am embarrassed to say this, but I don't know what Inclusion is. Can someone tell me?

  2. Inclusion means that the child is included in the general class to learn as opposed to a special ed class. Best wishes to the original poster on finding a good fit.

  3. I think most of the elementary schools have an inclusion program. I would follow the same thought process with or without an inclusion child , by looking for which school is a good FIT for your child. If your child gets overwhelmed easily, don't choose a school with four kindergartens, if they like art or science, choose one with a strong program. Good Luck!

  4. 7:50 is giving you false information.

    "most schools" do NOT have "inclusion programs".
    Only 40% of the Elementary Schools in SFUSD "offer" inclusion, even though that is against the law.
    If a school receives public money, they may not discriminate against children with disabilities, yet 60% of SFUSD's Elementary schools do.

    Placement decisions should be made in IEP meetings, yet SFUSD also illegally requires that parents list seven schools and enter some lottery, which isn’t a lottery at all, it’s a bunch of people who don’t know your kid “deciding” where to place him or her. What can be “individualized” about listing seven schools?

    I looked at 28 schools with “inclusion”, many were not appropriate at all for my son. Look for a school that has leadership that understands inclusion. The Inclusion Support Teachers (ISTS) come and go, so don’t base your decision simply on what the ISTs are like. The general ed teachers are who will be with you child the most.

    I chose Harvey Milk because of the IST and the principal, and when we arrived on the first day I found out the IST I liked moved to Costa Rica to go surfing, and I wasn’t happy at all with his replacement, who is still there. And the principal I liked is gone now too.

    If I was in your position right now, I’d try to get into West Portal. They KNOW inclusion.

    And make sure your child gets the support they need to be fully included, make sure it is CLEARLY stipulated in your kid’s IEP, because this district just plops kids in programs, without enough support, and then says “inclusion isn’t working”.

    And I wish you luck. Inclusion isn’t always easy to deal with, as a parent, and it is sometimes harder on our kids, but they learn more because in general ed they are exposed to the regular curriculum, and not just given a crayon and placed in a corner. Children with disabilities should not be marginalized and segregated.

    Check out this workshop on December 12th:
    Inclusive Education
    Inclusion in general education with supports should be the first placement considered by your child’s IEP Team and should be available to all children and youth with disabilities. Come learn more about inclusive schooling, what it means, what the laws say and what years of research can tell us about what makes it effective!
    Presented by: Professor Ann Halvorsen, CSU East Bay ; Katy Franklin (Parent) from the San Francisco Unified School District Community Advisory Committee for Special Education (CAC)

    Workshop held at John O'Connell High School, 2355 Folsom Street, (@20th Street).
    Limited parking is available in the schoolyard -- Enter from Harrison Street (between 19th and 20th Streets).
    Time of workshops are 8:30 am-Registration and 8:30 am-12:30 pm-Program
    RSVP required. Call 415-920-5040 to sign up for a workshop, clinic or for more information, to reserve childcare or interpretation services.

    And here are some links to articles:

  5. I'm an SFUSD special education teacher. I've heard West Portal is great, as well as F. Scott Key. When you are looking at inclusion programs, there are lots of questions to ask. There is no standard, so different schools do it differently. Some schools do pull-out support with the inclusion teacher. Some schools do have a para that offers your child support in the classroom. You need to be very sure that your child gets support during times that are difficult for him or her. For example, if you are worried about recess or lunch, make sure that support during recess or lunch are written in to the IEP. If you are worried about your child being able to participate during group instruction, make sure that support is written into the IEP for that, as WELL as a teaching plan so that support can be faded out! Thanks for introducing this topic.

  6. i do not have a child with an IEP, but my daughter goes to fairmount, which has two special day classes and a handful of kids in full inclusion. (my kid sits next to a kid with a fulltime aide in class.) i have met the two special day teachers, jenny pak and bonnie taylor, through grant-writing and snack-donation projects and they made a fantastic impression. i get the sense that fairmount has a longstanding inclusion program. i'm ashamed to say i don't know whether the instruction is in english or spanish, but i strongly suspect english. maybe you should check it out?

  7. I hear Francis Scott Key isn't that great, some of the aides handle the children roughly -- they pull and push them and that is awful.

  8. Fairmount is supposedly good at inclusion, but it wouldn't have worked for my kid, because he could tend to bolt off, and the school isn't securely closed off with gates.
    To some that doesn't matter. That is why you have to go look, because the people who know nothing about your child do not take these things into consideration.

  9. "Some schools do have a para that offers your child support in the classroom. "

    Paraprofessional support is IEP driven, I would never advise parents to rely on support from floating aides the schools have in place. The IEP should clearly state how much of the day your child requires 1:1 para support and what that paraprofessional duties are. Sadly, if the IEP doesn't state that -- your child will get hardly any para support.

  10. If folks are going to post insider (IEP) jargon, at least take a sentence or two to explain it for the rest of us.


  11. 11:20,

    what is it that you do not understand?
    IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan.

  12. If you are entering the system with an IEP, be prepared to check up on the school to make sure it is being followed and if it is being followed but does not seem to be working, demand another one. Do not take "no" for an answer or assume that the school or the teacher is following the plan (e.g. child is supposed be in inclusion but is left out of class activities because he/she is difficult to integrate with the class).

  13. Also, to the person asking the original question, if your child's IEP does not state inclusion, specifically, as the placement option, the Placement Office WILL NOT "allow" you to apply to an inclusion program. So make sure the IEP states inclusion before the enrollment deadlines if that is what you want.

    Who recommended inclusion, the District, or an outside professional?

  14. I also work for SFUSD special ed.

    I second the teacher who provided kudos to F. Scott Key (their entire special ed program functions well and the principal, unlike administrators at many other schools, strongly supports inclusion) and West Portal.

    The inclusion program at Feinstein is also wonderful. Monroe is also a good choice, especially if your child can handle the immersion program.

  15. Feinstein? The principal is terrible. Any sign of behavior problems and she ships kids off to Special Day Classes.

  16. Hey 12:57:

    The original post didnt include a definition of the acronymn that was the point of the post.

    Original posts should include definitions of jargon. Capiche?

    otherwise it's SNAFU, FUBAR and NFPC, IMHO

  17. 10:04
    get help
    you are hostile and angry

    a 10 second web search of IEP would tell you what IEP stood for, if you really wanted to know ...

    but I think all you really wanted to do was waste people's time criticizing others

    if the subject is of no interest to you, click on by

  18. 10:52: Someone asked a question about an acronym. Why pathologize this simple request for information?

    It is possible to be courteous and helpful, even here. Please take your overdeveloped umbrage elsewhere.

  19. wow, 11:37

    10:04's (a.k.a. YOU) are the one with "overdeveloped umbrage" and a total lack of courtesy.

  20. Wrong, 12:12. That last post was my first on this thread. Yet again, you're over-reacting.


  22. Feinstein does not have an SDC. I will, however, reiterate that inclusion works well there. The inclusion teacher is competent, friendly, and does an excellent job of coordinating services for the students. Moreover, the school is well-appointed, clean, and friendly to the inclusion population.

  23. I am a special ed teacher for the district and think that the parent posting would do well to go and speak with Support for Families of Children with Disabilities rather than putting too much importance into the responses from this blog. She or he could also ask Parents for Public Schools to help them find a parent ambassador at schools in which they are interested. Some of the writers sound angry and dissatisfied, and it would be a shame if what they are writing scares this parent, who may have a child and/or priorities for that child's education that are very different from those commenting. If you read this blog long enough you will see that there are more worried and unhappy parents posting than in the general population of parents.

    I am an SFUSD parent also. Best of luck to the poster, and please trust your instincts both about the IEP team's recommendation for Inclusion and the schools that seem right for your child.

  24. Inclusion: great for parents of kids with difficulties.
    Not great for everyone else.

  25. Ugh, 11:06. I'm a parent of kids in SFUSD in middle and elementary whose kids have not been in special day classes nor inclusion, but who have had good friends over the years in both. What a loss if we had not known these great kids. In general, I am grateful for the opportunity for my children to know a wide range of kids in public school, including those with evident and sometimes less visible learning differences. I realize this probably sounds like PC pablum, but I have seen that it is reassuring for kids to understand there is not really any "normal" out there, just differences along various spectrums.

    Also, frankly, the kids with IEP-mandated paras provide an extra adult in the classroom who benefits everyone--even though he/she needs to focus on the needs of one kid per the IEP, the mere presence of another adult is fairly calming and another set of eyes and hands.

  26. 11:06

    What a hateful, ignorant statement.

  27. Yup,

    there's a special place in hell for people like 11:06.

    Scary part is, people like that also teach that intolerance to their children.

  28. To the original poster:
    Almost all of the parents at my son's schools have been fully supportive and welcoming, so don't be put off by mean-spirited comments from the 11:06 types. Thankfully, they are not that common.
    Also, the 11:06 types who have complained usually have children who are bullies, because of their unhappy home environments and the inability of their parents to deal with their problems in a constructive way.

  29. I am the 11:06 parent. You can dismiss me all you want, but I am none of those things. I do not teach intolerance to my children and, I have a sweet, gentle child who didn't like the classroom disruption and constant violation of his physical space by a behaviorally disturbed child. It essentially ruined the learning environment for everyone. It made me sad we could not afford private school. If it nonetheless makes you feel better to put down people who aren't on board with the inclusion zeitgest, feel free.

  30. Not sure if Claire Lilienthal is an "inclusion" school, but do know that their are kids with differences and with paras in the various classrooms. The school has been very supportive towards our kid who has both physical disabilities and emotional disabilities. They have encouraged us to have an IEP rather than a 504 plan, but even with only a a 504 plan the school got an aide for my kid.

  31. "behaviorally disturbed children"

    are not necessarily children with IEPS or children in inclusion programs. In Fact, many times those children are not getting the special education services and help they need.

    So don't be so quick to think that the behaviorally challenged kids are the kids in special education.

    You had one bad experience in your class, with what may or may not have been a child in an inclusion program, and from that you conclude "inclusion isn't good for the other kids"??

    The research shows that inclusion benefits both the included children and the "typical" peers.

  32. I second the call for explanations or links for jargon. It's hard enough to follow all the possibilities in SFUSD.

    Here's a link to the district's
    IEP page

  33. The child was on an IEP.
    And, no, I don't care what the research shows. I just care that my child's classroom was in a constantly disrupted learning environment.

  34. I think most of these posts have been straight-on and helpful. The only thing I would add is that, while there are many good elementary schools that have inclusion, there are very limited options for inclusion students in middle school. For example, the only K through 8 that has inclusion is Claire Lillienthal. Otherwise, for middle schools, you are limited to a small number of middle schools --all very large schools. Middle school may seem far away now, but you'd be amazed at how the time flies. I am right now dealing with trying to find a suitable middle school for my inclusion kid and, to my mind, the options are very limited. To compound this problem, I've been told that a student can get many of the same services (paras coming into the classroom to help) in the Resource Specialist Program or RSP program. And if your kid is designated RSP rather than inclusion, that opens up your options enormously -- virtually every school has RSP. While there are kids who fall on the non-mild side of disabilities such as inclusion is really necessary, there's quite a wide "gray" area of kids with mild ADD or with ADD that is somewhat controlled by medication that can be either placed in inclusion or RSP. In our case, our elementary really pushed the inclusion designation. Now, with the limited options of middle school, we are really wishing we had looked to see if she could get assistance through RSP instead.

  35. 12;07, disruptions happen in many classes, in many schools, including private schools, and often are not caused by children with disabilities.

  36. 1:34, hold an IEP and switch the designation to RSP.

  37. To 1:41 pm -- This is 1:34 again -- thanks for the suggestion. We are considering switching to RSP, but the school is taking the position that RSP kids get no paras coming in to the class to help. And we are also scared to push too hard because they've been so supportive of our kid in other areas. And, to be honest, we are just a bit worried that, if we switch her into RSP and try to get her into a smaller K through 8 but fail (not an unrealistic possibility), we'd have to deal with our kid in RSP in one of the large middle schools. And if that middle school looks at RSP as not involving paras coming into the class (and some do) and our kid needs that, we'd have a hell of a time getting back into inclusion.

  38. Hi 3:44

    the "i" in IEP stands for INDIVIDUALIZED

    If district people ever tell you something "is against our policy"

    ask for the policy in writing

    there is no rule that kids in RSP cannot have aides ... there are RSP kids in SFUSD who have 1:1 aides.

    I understand your reluctance, though, you'd have to have guaranteed aide support and a guaranteed placement to a K-8 from the IEP team before switching over.
    All these things are supposed to be IEP team meeting driven.

    SFUSD needs more K-8s for our kids.

    Good luck ...

  39. Here's a general question - Our elementary aged student is an inclusion student that I think would be fine in the RSP program as well. He still has some para time in his IEP but I don't think it's really necessary or even used. It's really there just in case things suddenly start going south. I'm starting to think about middle school and the few that are on my radar so far have inclusion programs. How likely are we to get our first choice middle school, would it be easier if we were in the RSP program? Is it easier or harder to get a middle school that has inclusion as an inclusion student vs. the general population - i.e. are the spots very limited and eveyone wants the same schools or are you pretty likely to get your first choice? We got our IEP in elementary school so we've never gone thru the lottery with one.

    While I'm throwing out questions - for backups I should look at private schools. Any thoughts on private schools that wouldn't automatically reject someone on the spectrum even if they're high functioning? Friends maybe? Kittredge?? Any thoughts?

  40. Sterne, Laurel, Charles Armstrong

  41. To the 4:51's first question -- I'm the person with the inclusion kid heading to middle schoool too. How many inclusion slots do each middle school have? Good question -- could SFUSD give us an answer? I wish I knew -- I'd LOVE to know this answer. Now everyone I've spoken to has said you have a much better chance of getting your first choice if you are in inclusion than you are in RSP. RSP kids are in the general lottery with the rest of kids. If you read the brochure for enrollment, it says something like -- SFUSD will "try its best" to give you your first choice. While not an air-tight guarantee, it is certainly better than being in the normal lottery system. But you are right that it is not clear how much better off you are in inclusion in the lottery process.

  42. "Sterne, Laurel, Charles Armstrong"

    Those are special education only schools.

    Friends is your best bet, they are most tolerant of different kinds of minds.

  43. Your chances may be slightly better getting a school of your choice with an inclusion application, but there's no way of knowing.
    Many inclusion programs are already over-enrolled and there are NO OPENINGS, but SFUSD will not tell us that and it's messed up because they tell us to list seven choices, and it is possible that half the choices we put down don't even have any room.
    SFUSD does not tell us how many "inclusion spots" are available, and right off the bat your choices are lessened because the only middle schools that "offer" inclusion are:


    here's information on why the school choice system for students in special education lacks equity:

  44. To 6:37 am -- thanks so much for posting that article. I wish I had seen that before! I'm wondering if any parent of an inclusion kid out there who has gone through the middle school lottery process and might be willing to share with us how they fared in terms of getting the middle school they want.

  45. I don't agree about Friends. They are not set up to deal with kids on the autism spectrum. I wouldn't waste your time or money.

  46. 11:08

    not all kids with autism are the same ... that's why it is called a SPECTRUM disorder ...
    Friends may be appropriate for *some* children on the spectrum.

  47. Hello, I'm the parent who sent in the original comment.

    My biggest problem so far has been the complete lack of information re. how many Inclusion places are available. The EPC says its up to them and the school principal. None of the principals have been "available" so far, and certainly not the EPC.

    It would be so helpful if there was a Adam spreadsheet for Inclusion children. So far, this is like blindly entering the lottery without knowing if the school you picked has even one kindergarten spot available.

    It would be great if PPSF could get the Inclusion school principals and the EPC together for a presentation on what choices are available for Inclusion parents.

  48. Could Katy Franklin or someone from the Advisory Committee on Special Education give us some more concrete numbers about Inclusion slots at both the elementary and middle school levels? And also some more concrete sense of how likely we are to get our kid into our first choice school, again both elementary and middle?

  49. One more school to float on private possibilities (in addition to Friends & the purely sped schools) - what about Live Oak? any thoughts?

  50. here's a question that is related to inclusion. how do the various middle schools handle the uneven abilities of lots of spec ed students. our child and the children of many of the other sped students we know tend to be "advanced" in english and "behind" in math, or vice versa. does anyone know how they deal with that, especially the strictly tracked middle schools.

  51. 12:24 pm -- my sense on your really good question is that it all comes down to the views of the specific inclusion teachers at each middle school and/or the principal. I've actually had pretty good luck getting through by phone to the teachers and asking my questions. They were all super nice and answered my questions. Of course, each time I've gotten off the phone I wish I'd asked more questions. I did kind of ask your question, but in the context of whether the kid would lose the chance to do an elective (music, dance, art), something we don't want to lose because it is the one place our kid excels. On that specific issue, in an ironic way, having your kid be inclusion rather than RSP helps a bit -- most schools seemed to mandate that RSP kids do a "study skills" class instead of an elective, while, in inclusion, there's greater room for your kid to still do the elective. Now that flexibility varied -- at Lick it is not an issue at all because the kids have two elective periods so your kid will always get to do some elective, while at Hoover and Giannini I got the impression that they really wanted the inclusion kids to do a remedial class during the elective but were open to a contrary suggestion. Roosevelt was a bit of a mystery to me -- I got contrary information.

  52. I heard of a child who was asked to leave Friends due to her dyslexia

  53. "One more school to float on private possibilities (in addition to Friends & the purely sped schools) - what about Live Oak? any thoughts?"

    Not sure what the kid is diagnosed with -- all those acronyms are greek to me. But if it's autism, no way. Same for dyslexia or ADHD. They just aren't equipped with the specialized resources that schools like Laurel or Armstrong -- or even some public schools -- are.

  54. I'd hesitate to put all but the most social and academically skilled spectrum kid at a private that doesn't have at least one ASD professional.

    These kids are diverse, for sure. That said, even the most high functioning and social will likely benefit from the expertise of at least one adult who has expertise in teaching and meeting the social and emotional need of a kid who is one the spectrum.

  55. "ASD professionals" ????

    in SFUSD???

    ya gotta be kidding.

    Most special ed teachers in the district know next to nothing about autism.


    Who are they trying to fool?

  57. Although many teachers don't have a dedicated background in autism (a few most definitely do), the content specialists and behaviorists are experienced professionals.

    That said, the district does not have anything close to a critical mass of professionals who can teach and otherwise support kids on the spectrum.

    The next step, of course, is for the district to require training for teachers who have ASD kids in their classes and recruit and pay (as if!) autism professionals for their experience. THe problem, sadly, is that most people who have training in ABA etc. either don't have a teaching credential (despite many years of experience) or will be paid more in a private setting.

    That said, please note that my previous post said nothing about SFUSD. It is my belief that most children with autism benefit from services that are--at the barest minimum--directed by someone who has expertise in ASD.

  58. I don't think the content specialists are experienced professionals, I think they are bureaucratic administrators who only care about pleasing district lawyers -- they don't care about the kids at all, they don't help teachers learn best practices, all they do is go to meetings and deny services to children who need those services.

  59. 1:35pm. I'm truly sorry that you you feel so negatively toward content specialists. I hope that whatever problem you and/or your child is having in the district is resolved in a way that works for yo.

    The autism content specialists do, in fact, have dedicated training and expertise in autism and are not there to "deny services" or "please district lawyers".

    Unfortunately, autism content specialists have a big job. They are expected to support dozens of teachers and paraprofessionals--many of whom have no experience with autism at all-- as well as deal with the district, attend IEPS, etc.


  60. Whatever training they have is not apparent. They claim to be experts but know so little about teaching children with learning disabilities it is pathetic.
    They are gatekeepers, denying services and they lie to parents, especially parents who do not speak English very well.
    I don't know any parent in SFUSD who is happy with the content specialist assigned to their child, so it isn't just "me" - it is a district-wide problem.

  61. Can you be more specific, 7:12am?

    Your vitriol is apparent but the specifics of your anger are not.

  62. "They are gatekeepers, denying services and they lie to parents, especially parents who do not speak English very well.
    I don't know any parent in SFUSD who is happy with the content specialist assigned to their child, so it isn't just "me" - it is a district-wide problem."

    That seems pretty specific to me already.

    1:09, what do you want 7:12 to do? Go into specific cases of content specialists being awful to parents at IEP meetings? I am sure she could do that, but I think every parent of a child with an IEP in San Francisco already knows lots of those stories already.

    But I guess you'd just call that "vitriol" too.

  63. I'm not trying to minimize anyone's experience. Rather, I'd like to know, specifically, how the district isn't living up to expectations. What kinds of services are being denied? How are parents being treated poorly?

    Also, I don't see the previous posters distinguishing between the content specialists and the autism content specialists. There is a difference.

  64. 12:24 pm -- I assume you are asking whether your kid could be in, say, Honors Math, but in General Ed for, say, English, right? This is because your inclusion student is really pretty good at, say, math, but having serious issues in, say, English. Of the inclusion schools, the only ones I know about are Lick, Hoover, Roosevelt and Giannini. So, here goes: for Lick, you don't have a worry -- Lick integrates all the kids into one class, except for limited pullouts of higher-performing kids in Math; for Roosevelt, it all depends on whether your kid is in GATE -- if he's GATE, he's in Honors across the board; if not, he's not; Giannini -- doesn't segregate in sixth, but does start in seventh; since placement in Honors is a result of testing and teacher recommendation, I'd assume your kid could get into Honors for subjects he excels at (but be warned that I've seen posts on here of Giannini parents complaining that Honors class seats are rationed); Hoover -- the principal told us at the tour that Honors/Gen Ed stratification starts day one based on fifth grade test scores -- I can't remember whether he said that that threshold is an average of the English and Math sides and then you are in across-the-board or whether it is by subject and, again by test score (also be warned that the Hoover situation is in flux as they won't be able to use the fifth grade test scores anymore since the results come out after school starts (SFUSD is starting earlier this year). Hope this helps!

  65. Could I ask the posters on here who are having ideological arguments to please give it a rest? Me and other parents of inclusion students really need to exchange information to figure out how placements are made for elementary and middle schools. We are all flying in the dark. I really want this to be a string that inclusion parents can use to try to navigate the bizarre world of SFUSD inclusion placement. And please can I make another request of parents of kids who have been through the middle school inclusion placement process -- please tell us whether you found getting into your first-choice easy or hard. I really need to hear your experiences! Please!

  66. Katy Franklin here. Pals told me to check out this thread.

    I haven't been through the middle school inclusion placement process, so I've no first-hand experience.

    I've written about how the whole process is unfair (someone posted a link to the article, earlier?) ...

    Honestly, all special education placement decisions, should, by law, be made in IEP meetings and not in some bizarre lottery. There is NOTHING "individualized" about writing down a list of 7 schools and having someone who knows nothing about your child deciding where he or she goes to school.
    The law is also very clear that parents are supposed to be part of any meeting where your child's placement is discussed, yet parents are never part of the EPC process that assigns your child to a school. I hear they have a whiteboard and just bark out "oh, put that kid at LICK". Truly scientific.

    So to bypass the whole screwy system, I would call for an IEP meeting, ask that the special ed director be at that meeting, and insist that you get an actual offer of placement (actual school site, not just program) in that meeting, and written into the IEP. If they don't agree, file a complaint with the California Department of Education, saying that you are not getting an actual offer of placement in your IEP meeting.
    The District would like you to believe that all "inclusion" placements are equal, so assigning you to any one of them at any school is all they have to do.
    We know that all schools and all programs are not the same.

    I wish I could tell you how many spots will be available at each school, but even as the CAC Vice-Chair, I am not privvy to that information. I have to do information requests just to get the capacity numbers. Capacity tells you very little, because it doesn't tell you how many 9th graders are moving on , and the information I get sometimes shows openings, but only for that moment in time, it could change instantly.

    I switched my kids' designation to RSP instead of inclusion, and may now apply to any school in the district. Others, earlier, have warned that if you do that -- no "expert" will be there to support your child being included. Sadly, I have not found much support from the inclusion support teachers, they have too many children on their caseloads and do not really have time to do much at all, or the ones my son has had didn't, except for his great first special ed teacher in prek that wasn't credentialled properly -- so they switched her for a newly out of school snotty person who was really awful. So in short, I don't notice much difference between RSP and IST (Inclusion Support Teacher) support. If the program and expertise was what it is SUPPOSED to be, then in theory, it should make a difference. I can see how a great IST would be worth their weight in gold.

    Anyway, here's the latest (10/10) capacity numbers I have for the inclusion middle schools ... it is out of date, but will give you a snapshot, at least ...

    Giannini 36 inclusion spots, 4 open

    Hoover 36 inclusion spots, 0 open

    Horace Mann 12 inclusion spots, 6 open

    Lick 12 inclusion spots, 0 open

    King 6 inclusion spots, 2 open

    Roosevelt 12 inclusion spots, OVER-ENROLLED BY 1 (13 kids in program)

    Lilienthal, I can't tell, because it is a K-8 and I don't have a breakdown of the middle school ... but it has 36 inclusion students and no openings ...

    hope this helps ... good luck ...

  67. Oh, and one more thing ...

    the caseloads at all these schools are all already over what the teacher's contract says they should be. They should be more like 6-8 kids, or 8-10 ...
    but the district keeps adding to the IST's caseloads, creating lots of service delivery issues and affecting the children's education.

    Sorry if you think that is an ideological statement, but the politics here are very important, because it affects our kids' schooling. I don't know how you could have gone through all this with your child -- up to the point of entering middle school -- without knowing how important these issues are to our children.

    I find the discussion here interesting, and very much on topic.

    I know you want to know the "odds" of getting a school of your choice, but until EPC starts releasing data about how many inclusion applications they got for each school (the same information they give to PPS for "typical kid enrollment) -- it will be impossible to calculate or even guess.

  68. Sorry I am coming to this late. I am a parent of a kindergartner who has an IEP, which was ignored in the lottery and we were assigned a general ed spot.
    Ultimately, we were not convinced that the school district would solve this problem and we opted for to attend the Laurel school. I realize this is not a choice that everyone can make, and although it is not easy financially, it is the best decision we have ever made.

    The Laurel School is a K-8 school for children with learning differences and special needs. But I think most parents would be surprised at how 'normal' our children are. I encourage anyone to tour Laurel, I think you will be very surprised. Kids at Laurel are not cognitively impaired they just learn differently or need a smaller class size. I think there is a misconception that Laurel is a school only for autistic kids, while there are some children who are on the spectrum many of the children are not. Our son, for instance, is not on the spectrum.

    The classrooms are bright and spacious and the class sizes are small. The Kindergarten class currently has 4 students. I was originally very concerned that it was way too small and that our son would get bored. The reality is that he spends a great deal of time with other classes (mostly 1st grade) for PE, drama, music, recess, lunch etc. They also spend a great deal of time with other students (special friends, events, etc) and he views the entire school as his community! He proudly tells anyone who asks that he goes to The Laurel School. The fact that he is a Kindergartner is secondary. When it comes to reading, handwriting and math he is with his K classmates and their teacher. The result of all of this is that his handwriting has improved, he is starting to read and we have seen an increase in self confidence that is frankly astounding.

    To the parents on this list who don't have children with learning differences. Some of you have been sensitive and some not. Please understand that parents of kids with IEP's spend many, many days and hours working to try to get our children the help that they need. I remember I spent valentine's day last year attending an all day seminar learning about IEP's. This seminar was conducted by Support For Families, which I know has been mentioned here but they should be mentioned all the time as they are an amazing organization. IEP's are legal documents with all of the procedures, jargon and processes involved. IEP's are complicated, time consuming and difficult.

    As for the other schools mentioned, I don't know much about Charles Armstrong or Stern. Friends has been mentioned and I thought I saw CDS. I thought we would tour both schools but when I told them about our IEP they discouraged me from even touring.

    If I have posted this information in the wrong place, please forgive me and let me know where it should go. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly. Best of luck to all.

    Lennlee Keep

  69. Laurel costs so much, very few parents can afford it. Lucky you.

  70. I am lucky. Absolutely. But if parents are considering any other private school, Day, Friends etc. the tuition is the same.

  71. Yes, but some private schools are classified as NPS (Non Public School)
    and parents can seek reimbursement for the tuiton from the District. Laurel is not a certified NPS.

  72. and of course, like many other private options, The Laurel has financial aid available as well.

  73. that is absolutely true. Laurel is not an NPS school. It is my understanding that getting tuition reimbursement from the district is a very difficult process, but I have no knowledge of this first hand. We thought this school was the right fit for us and based on a lot of outside help, it was something that we were able to do. I wanted to tell people about Laurel to increase awareness about it as many parents either don't know about it at all, or have misconceptions about the population that the school serves.

  74. It is a special-education school, like a special day class. Children there have no typical peer role models, which many kids need.

  75. I wouldn't describe it as a special day class at all, but people view things differently. If it is something that seems at all interesting to you or possibly appropriate to your child, I would recommend checking it out. Again, best of luck to all in their search. I hope everyone gets what they are looking for!

  76. Most children in SDCs have cognitive or social
    impairments that are serious enough to inhibit their affect their socialization. Inclusion is important for these kids who need/ deserve a chance to interact with peers in typical day classes.

    Schools like Laurel are different. Mang of the students at schools like this one have age- appropriate social skills or close along with domain- specific issues (i.e., learning disabilities are often not global, kids with ADHD are often academically gifted, etc.).

    The unfortunate thing about this situation? The district offers neither schools nor classrooms that offer this level of dedicated support to kids who need it. That reality hurts over-taxed public-school teachers and it hurts students who might be better placed in an all-day supportive environment.

    And one more thing... the Laurel parent recognizes her privilige and seems to understand that she's lucky. Can we stop excoriating her for that good luck?

  77. Oops.

    The first sentence should read "inhibit their education..."

  78. One mention is hardly "excoriating her". Fact is, that "option" is not an option for MOST people.

    It is a shame that SFUSD does not have such an option that would work tremendously well for so many children.

    Parents need to band together and start a "Laurel-Type" Special Education Charter School.

  79. The topic is "inclusion programs" and Laurel is not an Inclusive school.

  80. Katy -- thanks, thanks, thanks for the information. Believe me, as snapshot as that was, the data on the middle schools was SO helpful. At least it gives me some kind of idea of the relative size of the inclusion openings at the middle schools. Thanks so much!!!!! If you are still checking this out, I've got a question -- because you have done what I've thought about doing, namely switch my kid from Inclusion to RSP. I don't want to pry, but when I've raised this with my elementary school, this is what they've told me: (1) with RSP, my kid can't get any more paraprofessional pull-ins (right now 45 minute three times a week); (2) in middle school, my kid could fail (inclusion kids can't fail) and, like you, (3) no one will be there to help him when he gets lost in middle school and needs help; and (4) inclusion in middle school gives your kid the chance to do an elective because RSP kids have to do the "study skills" class, while inclusion have (in theory) the possibility of doing an elective. As regards number one, I've been told that RSP kids can in fact get paraprofessional pull-ins and, as regards number 3, I agree with you -- not much lost there. But what about numbers two and four -- don't you worry that your kid could find herself getting her self-esteem destroyed by getting F's in class? Also, the one thing my kid does well in is elective-type stuff, so we really don't want to lose the chance to do an elective. Thoughts?

  81. The city is hamstrung by laws regarding least restrictive environment, which is too bad for kids who do well with the specific kind of structure that schools like Laurel offer. This is especially true for young children on the spectrum who often benefit greatly from the structured environment and specific teaching methods that work well with many ASD kids.

  82. Snark, excoriation... it's not the Laurel mother's faukt that SFUSD doesn't offer appropriate programs. I

  83. 12:10

  84. Districts are required to have a continuum of placement options.

    One size does not fit all with autism; it is a spectrum disorder and the district's way of insinuating that one program would be the best for all kids is ridiculous. For some, inclusion is most appropriate, for others, a school with small class sizes, built upon the Laurel Model, would be most appropriate.

    To infer that SFUSD is committed to placing children in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is LAUGHABLE.

    Those laws you say "Hamstring" the city, are FEDERAL LAWS, set up specifically to protect children from across-the-board segregation.

  85. Thanks for the all caps; they definitely debunk the previous poster's admittedly sparse argument.

  86. The district offers several placement options, but not nearly enough.

    SFUSD's interpretation of LRE means no dedicated schools, which is unfortunate.

  87. Hi again 6:34

    Katy Franklin here.

    They make that stuff up, it isn't set policy and it certainly isn't I.D.E.A. LAW.

    Frankly, NONE of these things, told to you by the school, are true:

    "(1) with RSP, my kid can't get any more paraprofessional pull-ins (right now 45 minute three times a week);
    (2) in middle school, my kid could fail (inclusion kids can't fail) and, like you,
    (3) no one will be there to help him when he gets lost in middle school and needs help; and
    (4) inclusion in middle school gives your kid the chance to do an elective because RSP kids have to do the "study skills" class, while inclusion have (in theory) the possibility of doing an elective."

    All these things are IEP driven.

    1.If your child needs more paraprofessional time, get it written into the IEP. Having an RSP designation does not limit paraprofessional time ... it is all INDIVIDUALIZED. There is no rule about what can or cannot be done in RSP programs, the IEP sets the rules.

    2. If you want your kid to not take tests, or get letter grades, then they don't have to.

    3. The IEP should stipulate the kind of support your child needs and when they need it. (of course we all know that the IEP can say one thing, but what the school does is not always in keeping with what the IEP says).

    4.If you want your child taking an elective, put it in the IEP.

    The district people make this stuff up, I know it is shocking. That's why, when district people tell you absurd stuff like your items 1-4, MAKE THEM PUT IT IN WRITING. They won't do that, because they know what they are telling you isn't true. Also, when district staff refuse to give your child a service or accommodation you have asked for (always ask in writing) ask them (also in writing)for PRIOR WRITTEN NOTICE, which is supposed to be an explanation, in writing, of WHY they are refusing to grant your kid the help you think your kid needs.

    I don't know your child, so I don't know how much support they may or may not need, or if switching to RSP is a smart move.

    My kid is, so far, above grade level, so the decision to switch to RSP was easier for me to make. When he gets into middle school, in a few years, and as the work gets more complicated, I have no idea how he'll do, academically.

    So here's another mantra of mine:
    When district employees say something is “against district policy” -- ask for that policy in writing. District employees always confuse procedures – which are non-binding practices the district is accustomed to following (and often illegal) – with policies. Policies which must always be approved by the Board of Education, must always conform with special education laws, and must always be in writing.

    Good Luck ...

  88. Sigh... It is so sad to see all this talk by self-righteous parents of learning disabled kids. I'm a teacher, and while I agree, that in a perfect world, everything that every student needs will be funded and provided, unfortunately there is not enough $$$ to go around. The $$$ spent on learning disabled kids comes straight from the pockets of the average student.

    Moreover, the learning disabled kids need to learn to compensate for their diability in the real world. Future employers will not give extra accommodations because they are disabled.

    I and many of my public school teacher colleagues believe that all the money spent on learning diabled kids is to the detriment of the public school system and the average student.

    I know this is not PC, but it is the absolute truth.

  89. Wow, I hope my child never has such a hateful ignorant teacher.

  90. Ignore the trolls.
    People like that will rot in hell.
    It isn't even worth paying any attention to them.

  91. WTF???


    Future employers will not hire them because teachers like you failed to teach the kids how to read.

    Would somebody hack the IP address of that person, so we can report them to the Board of Education? They shouldn't be around children. Even "average" ones.

  92. You are a teacher? Quit immediately. I have a child with IEP and I pay filthy taxes that go towards educating everyone, including kids who are "normal". Someone with discriminatory attitude like you doesn't belong in the profession. Truth? The real word is hate you have towards kids with learning disabilities. You disgust me.

  93. Thank you, Katy, for the very helpful response to my earlier questions. In your two responses, I have learned more than ever before. BTW, I'm seeing lots of negative posts in here about resources getting sucked up by special needs kids. A dose of reality might help. When my kid's paraprofessional comes in to help her in class, she acts much like a teacher's aide -- helping ALL the kids. Yes, she does focus on my kid to an extent, but even there she is freeing up the teacher to focus on the other kids. And, with all the complaining I have of the special ed folks, I can say that virtually every one of my kid's teachers has gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping my kid. Far from being "clock punchers," my kids' teachers have all been dedicated professionals who have tried to help ALL the kids in their classes. I tip my hat off to them. And they are creating a new world (different from my generation) where people are not looked down upon just because they learn differently but valued for the gifts they bring to the table.

  94. It does cost more to educate a child who receives special services. These funds are not diverted from children in the general population.

    As a special ed teacher, I am appalled and saddened that a fellow educator would make such troubling comments about children with a special ed designation.

    Many kids with IEPs grow up to be highly productive adults. Most grow up to be lovely people. All deserve an appropriate education,

  95. "This seminar was conducted by Support For Families, which I know has been mentioned here but they should be mentioned all the time as they are an amazing organization."

    I'll second the shout-out for Support for Families.

  96. All kids are worth trying to educate. Einstein would have been classified "learning disabled".
    My kid has a photographic and an eidetic memory, he could read everything when he was two, and he is a math whiz. But he has autism, and needs extra help to cope with being in the real world. He needs protection from odious people like 6:27, and luckily, there are federal laws to protect him from scum like 6:27.

  97. Katy here again ...

    Since people are mentioning Support For Families ...

    (My friend Robin and I presented the Valentine's Day workshop mentioned earlier ... I am glad people found it helpful. See, this is what we "self-righteous" (sic) parents do on Valentines day ... instead of romantic brunches with our spouses -- we go to workshops to learn how to help our kids!
    How self-righteous of us!)

    #$%^@&* *&$%# !!!!
    (expletives deleted)

    ANYWAY, here's another workshop:

    December 12th:

    Inclusive Education
    Inclusion in general education with supports should be the first placement considered by your child’s IEP Team and should be available to all children and youth with disabilities. Come learn more about inclusive schooling, what it means, what the laws say and what years of research can tell us about what makes it effective!
    Presented by: Professor Ann Halvorsen, CSU East Bay ; Katy Franklin (Parent) from the San Francisco Unified School District Community Advisory Committee for Special Education (CAC)

    Workshop held at John O'Connell High School, 2355 Folsom Street, (@20th Street).
    Limited parking is available in the schoolyard -- Enter from Harrison Street (between 19th and 20th Streets).
    Time of workshops are 8:30 am-Registration and 8:30 am-12:30 pm-Program
    RSVP required. Call 415-920-5040 to sign up for a workshop, clinic or for more information, to reserve childcare or interpretation services.

    Also, Support For Families will be given an award by SFUSD at the December 8th Board of Education Meeting ... it would be very great if lots of families who they have helped show up and say a few words of thanks and congratulations ...

    Dec 8th, Tuesday
    6 pm
    555 Franklin Street

    call Esther Casco,
    Executive Assistant to the Board of Education
    at: 415/241-6427

    to sign up as a speaker
    (2 minutes max, I think ..sometimes they cut it to 1 minute)

    if you're too shy to speak, come and clap and cheer!

    They've given us such support -- let's show up and give them some too!

  98. On the issue of capacities at various middle schools, those numbers may be affected by budget cuts. For example, it is rumored that Lick's inclusion program might be eliminated next year. Katy -- do you know anything about possible cuts to inclusion programs at the different middle schools? I'd hate to get into one middle school and then be told that the inclusion program is being axed.

  99. Note - I just called Ester to sign up to speak - she will not take the information for the speaker's list until Monday 12/7for the meeting on the 8th. No explaination given, just one of those rules.

  100. whole lot of anger apparently among parents of disabled children towards anyone who does not fully agree with their vision of how their children should be educated. unfortunately there is not enough funding to go around in the system right now and does feel like a "zero sum game," and so it does pit groups against one another. But for those of us not involved in this fight, it seems like pretty intense villification towards anyone who might disagree with you. It should make someone hateful to think that money is better spent elsewhere. You of course may disagree, and you have the right to wage that fight politically -- as has already been done, and mostly won. Learn to live with the fact that not everyone agrees with it.

  101. The word "maniacal" comes to mind.

  102. Please ignore the troll.

  103. Another idiot. Better spent elsewhere? Where? We pay the taxes that go towards educating our kids, salaries of teachers including those who think kids with learning disabilities should be discarded. This is the kind of dumbass logic I have trouble with. We do live with the fact that some idiot teachers and parent of those that don't have kids with difficulties look down upon us and our kids. We pay to have our kids educated. It ain't free. Get over your hate towards our kids.

  104. Idiot? That's harsh ...

    but yeah ...

    the person is no Stephen Hawking, that's for sure!

  105. touche 5:46

    15% of the world's population has learning disabilities

    as did these people:

    Galileo, Louis Pasteur, Albert Einstein , Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, Mozart, Robin Williams, Lewis Carroll, George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Branson, Charles Schwab, George C. Scott, George Burns,

    guess those folks must have all had "self-righteous" parents, who believed in their children , eh?

  106. How could money be spent, you asked?

    Money could be spent on education for English Language Learners.

    Money could be spent on students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

    Money could be spent on historically low achieving Latino and African American students.

    Money could be spent on GATE students.

    Money could be spent on art, music and language electives.

    Money could be spent on reducing class size for ALL students.

    Learning disabled student deserve a piece of the pie certainly, but why do you parents think that they deserve priority over these other students?

    Parents of non-learning students pay taxes also.

    I wish there was more money to go around, but if there is not, do you think that learning disabled students are the most important?

    Apparently so.

  107. Ignore the troll, PLEASE.

  108. " a troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion"

    Yup, don't feed 'em ... ignore 'em

  109. Dear all, I am sharing an email that I just received about an upcoming inclusion event. I hope the families on this thread find this event useful. I will also ask Kate to post it in a more visible location, as this note may be lost when the calendar rolls over to December (in just a few minutes!) and the November topics fade away. Enjoy!

    The 9th Annual Inclusive Schools Week will be held December 7-11, 2009. Inclusive Schools Week is an annual event that highlights the accomplishments of families, schools, and communities that have dedicated time, labor, and resources to promoting inclusive education for all of the world's children.

    San Francisco Community Event and Dinner
    Screening of the Documentary film "Including Samuel"
    Monday, December 7th, 6-8 PM
    Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy
    4235-19th Street
    Dinner will be provided.

    For Inclusive Schools Week, we are screening the film "Including Samuel" (see more details below), an hour-long documentary about inclusive education.

    This will be an informal event, just a chance for people to watch the film and discuss what they saw & how it may have changed the way they feel about inclusion. We will have a panel of parents and educators there to help answer any questions you may have about inclusion. We'd like to include all members of our community for this event, not only those with children in inclusion. If you don't know what inclusion means, this is a great place to find out! (Harvey Milk is an inclusion school). Please share this invitation to anyone who you think might be interested.

    PLEASE RSVP by December 1, 2009 (or sooner!) so we can have an accurate head count for food and seating arrangements.

    RSVP to Audrey Vernick
    audvern@yahoo. com
    415-377-1132 cell
    (Mom to Bennett, a kindergartner at Harvey Milk in the Inclusion Program)

    About the film:
    This is a rare chance to see a wonderful film about what it means to have a child with special needs included in a typical school, and the impact it has on everyone involved.

    "Including Samuel: Before his son Samuel was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, photojournalist Dan Habib rarely thought about the inclusion of people with disabilities. Now he thinks about inclusion every day. Shot and produced over four years, Habib’s award-winning documentary film, Including Samuel, chronicles the Habib family’s efforts to include Samuel in every facet of their lives. The film honestly portrays his family’s hopes and struggles as well as the experiences of four other individuals with disabilities and their families. Including Samuel is a highly personal, passionately photographed film that captures the cultural and systemic barriers to inclusion."


    watch a trailer of the film:

  110. Did anyone get permission from Dan Habib for a public showing of his film? Are you charging admission?

  111. With all the nasty posts above, parents of special ed kids may have missed my question above. I was wondering if any of you have been through the middle school enrollment process (either as inclusion or RSP) and could give us any sense of (1) how easy it was to get the school you wanted for your kid; and (2) for inclusion parents, how has your experience been at the (relatively) large middle schools that are really the only options -- Giannini, Hoover, Roosevelt and Lick? (If people don't want to identify the actual school, that's fine. But it would help just to hear general experiences like "We are finding the inclusion paras totally unhelpful" or "My kid is doing surprisingly better in middle school than I had expected" or whatever)) Please pass this request on if you know someone with a special ed kid in a SF public middle school.

  112. Including Samuel includes a screening guide, posted here:

  113. Showing the film to at a school requires purchase of the educational showing kit.

    The cost is 180.00.

    Package Contents
    1 Including Samuel Education Kit, licensed for educational, instructional and institutional use.

  114. Not everyone who disagrees with you is a troll or a believer in eugenics. There is a limited amount of money in the system, everyone is fighting for their own. You are advocating for your kids. Great. That's what any parent should do. But stop acting like everyone who doesn't share your priority regarding special ed/LD students is some horrible person.

  115. I understand that it isn't everyone's priority, but when you say: "money is wasted on THOSE children," -- that's just repugnant trolling.

  116. Joeymama, why are you posting on this thread instead of advocating for "your own" as you say?

  117. So no one can post here if they aren't in agreement with you? Get you own blog honey.

  118. Oh, sweety... lots of us disagree with your BS.

  119. Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Not just a troll, but a self-important and pretentious one at that.

  120. See what trolls do? They disrupt everything and make things turn nasty.

    If you are against inclusion of children with disabilities in classrooms, STAY OUT OF THIS THREAD because you have nothing to add except trying to make parents feel bad for sticking up for their kids.

    Why do they come in here just to ridicule people? How empty their lives must be.

  121. Wading into the fray a bit late.

    Amazingly enough, several things can be equally true at the same time and there are many problems in the system. Acknowledging all the problems and seeking how to address them without it becoming a zero-sum game is the challenge.

    1. The inclusion/RSP programs can be bureaucratic nightmares full of arcane rules and inconsistent policies and parents advocating for their kids can easily become frustrated and angry.

    2. There are parents in denial who refuse to believe that their kid may actually need and benefit from special help and resist the perceived stigma of being labeled. Leaving the classroom teacher to deal on their own as best they can. one teacher I know had to endure having a chair thrown at them every other day by a child having uncontrollable fits of anger. It also doesn't help that teachers are not supposed to restrain kids by hugging them from behind even if they are posing a threat to themselves and others.

    3. There are not enough resources for special ed and resources specialists in the system. The state mandates that all students be provided with appropriate resources but don't provide training to general ed teachers and not enough specialized teachers. This problem gets greatly magnified as class sizes increase in the upper grades to 30 or so and as general rule inclusion is more difficult in a overcrowded environment for both the students and the teachers.

    4. Resources for special ed and RSP are set by the state and are untouchable in a budget. So when budgets are cut 15% across the board. School site councils have to cut from general ed and other support programs. If the school doesn't have a strong PTA to help fill the gap, this means laying of literacy/reading specialists, paras etc. This is a not the fault of special ed - but obviously can breed resentment. It also creates an incentive not to expand programs and spots because although the school does get more money - it doesn't cover the expenses and makes for less flexibility in budgeting,

    Solutions? I don't know. Besides more money overall, which is not even really a guarantee. I think in NYC they do a hybrid approach - a class is set up with two teachers and two aides - half the class are special needs kids and the other half is general ed. one teacher and the aide are specially credentialed. in addition if a kid needs a shadow, thy would also be in the mix. A teacher I know who does this as the general ed teacher seems to thin it works well because resources are concentrated rather than diffused and there are still enough general ed kids to provide the background environment.

    Any solutions will have problems though, I am sure. Bunkering will not solve anything, though.

  122. 6:30am.

    Thank you for your thoughtful post.

  123. I see there are some new posters on this thread. Can I just renew my request above for any feedback (it doesn't have to mention the particular school) about special ed in the large public middle schools in SF? We are trying to figure out where to send our inclusion son and are really wondering how well special ed kids do in the middle schools.

  124. Who said I was against inclusion in classrooms? I am not. I am for it. I was just responding the really crazy anger and personal attacks towards any of the other posters who don't share your views. And no one here ever posted "money is wasted on THOSE children." You made that up and then attacked it. If that is what you heard someone say, then you are probably pretty bitter from going through life feeling attacked all the time. But I will leave you now to your angry echo chamber and move on to other threads.

  125. Phew ... good riddance.

  126. I am the parent of the inclusion kid who posted above and was trying to move my kid from Inclusion to RSP to get a wider choice for middle school. Well, we just had our IEP and, once again, the principal, the inclusion specialist and my son's teacher all strongly felt that he had to stay in inclusion. And despite my best plans to move him out of it, I just couldn't face saying no to these people who really have my kid's school life in their hands. (It also did not help that my kid had a particularly terrible week the week before for reasons that we don't understand.) I was told that, if I moved him out of RSP and we got into middle school and he needed it, it would be really hard to get back in. I was told that, even though I was "technically" right that you can get lots of support as a RSP student, many middle school administrators don't view it that way and that would leave my kid vulnerable in the future. I am really upset at this turn of events. From Katy's post above, it seems that, for all practical purposes, the vast bulk of the middle school inclusion slots are at two schools - Giannini and Hoover. And I have yet to find any parent whose kid did inclusion in one of those schools. We looked at them and, frankly, they look daunting -- massively large schools. PS -- What is a content specialist? A Content Specialist from the District HQ was supposed to be at the IEP but never showed. What's that?

  127. 9:42 I'm very sorry for your frustrations. One of my daughter's friends has been cycled through inclusion and special day programs and I have heard a lot about frustrations.

    I will say that AP Giannini runs a tight ship, so that sense of being a big school seemed very muted there. If your child would benefit from a strong sense of structure, I'd consider AP. Both schools have very strong music programs, if that's any incentive for your child.

  128. Thank you, 10:29. That is helpful information about Giannini. I appreciate your comment a lot!

  129. The content specialists are the people from the district who show up to your child's IEP meeting and say NO to everything. They are supposed to help the inclusion teacher differentiate your child's schoolwork, but they never have time to do that, mostly they just go to IEP meetings are are gatekeepers for SFUSD. It's always better when they are NOT at your child's IEP meeting, IMO.

  130. Content specialists are, in fact, area specialists who are assigned by school, not student. It is their job to advise teachers (who must first ask for consultation); make curriculum recommendations based on observation; liaison between teachers, parents, and the administration; and stay abreast of current trends in their area specialty.

    Unfortunately, this job is huge and unwieldy. The educational or administrative aspects of the job alone are a full-time job. What's more, the CS's caseloads are huge and there's little hope, at least this year, that the district will hire any more of them. Add to that, CSs are paid a teacher salary--which is much too low to begin with--and you get high turn over.

    The CS's bottom-line job is to know what the district has to offer and how to match those services to the child. Like many teachers, CSs do what they can with what they have. There is no mandate to deny parents what they want; indeed, doing so can be VERY expensive when parents go to due process or sue and such contention does not serve anyone.

    Am I an apologist for the district? Definitely not. I work for this entity and I know full-well that it falls short in many, many ways. That said, I know that many people--educators and administrators alike--care deeply about students and wish they had both the freedom and resources to improve kids' educations.

    Moreover, a lot of people, especially those who have expertise in autism, do so because they are dedicated to this population and want to work in the schools. Most can make much more money working elsewhere, which is why the best and brightest often jump ship to private schools or agencies. It's too bad that the folks in charge of special ed's purse strings don't pay attention and pay such folks what they're worth.