Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Middle School Touring List for Special Ed
We are about to embark on our touring of middle schools for our special ed son, Ben, but we are running into a problem. Which SFUSD public middle school can Ben actually attend? Ben is an "inclusion" kid. Inclusion is only offered at a limited number of schools. For the definitive list of inclusion middle schools for next year, we are apparently going to have to wait for the 2011-12 brochure to come out. (I tried calling the folks at SFUSD's special ed department several times to see if they could tell me more, but they have not yet gotten back to me. Perhaps if they see this post, they might want to chime in.) Now, if we had known how much of a problem that designation would be, we would never have agreed to it. Plenty of kids under the "RSP" designation receive the exact same services that Ben gets at his school. RSP kids can go to virtually any public middle or K through 8. But Ben's old elementary was adamant about it, and, as in the song Hotel California, when it comes to SFUSD special ed programs, you can check out, but you can never leave. Ok, that's not entirely true as some have apparently gotten out, but when we tried to get out at last year's IEP, Ben's teacher and the professionals all warned us that the district generally would not let a kid out of the program without evidence of significant improvement and that, if Ben got out, he might not receive the same services and might never be able to get back in and . . . Well, we backed down. Now, as some commenters on my previous post have noted, it is not entirely clear that SFUSD's limitation on inclusion kids' school placement passes muster under federal and state laws. And a recent outside report on special ed for the district flatly states that special ed kids should be placed in the most appropriate school, regardless of SFUSD's arbitrary "program" designations. But, for now, we are going to wait until SFUSD has its act together and tells us where it believes Ben can go. While we are waiting, we thought we'd check out some charter school alternatives. There are two middle school charters in the city we thought we'd check out. First on our list is Gateway. Gateway has had a high school for some time now that is generally respected. It appears to take special ed kids. It is opening a middle school starting next year. Second up is Edison, which has a new management that appears interested in taking on some special ed kids as well. It is no secret that Edison has been saddled with a for-profit management that did not serve the school well, but those folks are now gone and there appears to be interest there in moving on. Now a commenter on my recent post noted that charters often will take only some special ed kids, and we are aware of that issue. What we like about all these places is that they generally have a smaller number of kids in class and a smaller number of kids in a grade than the public middle schools. And that matters a great deal to us.