What I discovered was the special education system in the Los Angeles Unified School District is a daunting maze. If you don’t have the means to pay an attorney or advocate, you are stuck learning how to navigate this complex system on your own. This can take years.
This is especially true for families who have a language barrier.
Special education in the LAUSD is outdated. Neither the district nor teachers are equipped or prepared for the influx of disabilities. Most children with autism are mainstreamed, placed in classrooms with peers who don’t have special needs. School principals don’t have the resources to provide training or support for special education.
As if it wasn’t challenging enough to raise a child (or, in my case, two children) with learning differences, you have to go into meetings not understanding what schools’ reports and assessments say because they are written with jargon and acronyms in a way only a professional can understand.
Schools don’t provide you with these reports before the meeting unless you know to ask. Therefore, you can’t be prepared or participate unless you are given the 20-page report at the meeting.
There were times when my husband and I would stay in these meetings for hours. They used intimidation tactics, bringing 10 to 15 members of school staffers who really didn’t need to be there.
Then the special education director would go around the room and ask them to vote, ensuring we were outnumbered.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
A Journey Through Special Education
In The Politics of Autism, I devote a chapter to schools. At Education Post, Lisette Medina Duarte writes of her journey through the Los Angeles special education system: