I want to thank members of the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education for putting on a very helpful workshop today for parents of students in special education. Support for Families of Children With Disabilities co-sponsored the workshop, providing translation, refreshments and childcare, so my heartfelt thanks goes to them as well. (And I should note — this essential support organization needs your help!).
I also want to give credit to Clare Davies, the district’s new Director of Special Education, for attending this workshop, listening, and taking copious notes. In the six or seven years I have been involved in special education advocacy in San Francisco, I can’t remember the special ed director attending community workshops like the one held today. I am hoping special education in SFUSD is finally getting the attention it deserves.
Parents are worried, angry and upset because they feel their children are not getting the services they are entitled to; and that their children are not progressing as well as they should be with the services they are receiving. Today I heard many sad stories and promised followup to several parents. It is heartbreaking to hear all the ways students are being failed, and to hear how frustrated and discouraged families are from years of banging their heads against the brick wall of “the system.”
Workshops like today’s help families learn advocacy techniques that help parents help the district in supporting their children, and I am grateful to advocates Katy Franklin, Robin Hansen and Chris Ide-Don of Support for Families who made this happen. If you are interested in learning how to be a better advocate for your child in special education, this workshop will likely be given again at the Support for Families annual conference in March or April. Don’t miss it!