Film shot by differently abled adults debuts at VPAT – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

For a few hours Wednesday night, Vacaville Cultural Center felt like Hollywood as actors attired in tuxedos and fancy dresses paraded down a red carpet and cameras flashed while they made their way to the premiere of their new movie.

While it may have looked like a smaller scale premiere of the new “Star Wars” movie, it was actually the debut of a film by students at Joey Travolta’s Inclusion Films camp, which took place at Golden Hills Community School in Fairfield this past summer.

Travolta — a veteran filmmaker, producer and actor from a famous show-business family that includes his younger brother John — founded Inclusion Films in 2007 to teach filmmaking skills to individuals with developmental disabilities. His organization currently hosts a variety of film camps throughout California, and Solano hosted its first this past summer largely funded through donors like NorthBay Healthcare, Soroptimist International of Vacaville Twilight Club, Solano County Office of Education and Dutch Bros. Coffee of Fairfield.

Source: Film shot by differently abled adults debuts at VPAT – The Reporter

SCOE Film camp opens doors to young adults with disabilities – Daily Republic

BY Amy Maginnis-Honey

There was a red carpet premiere Wednesday in Vacaville.

The almost 50 adults involved in the film showed up in suits, ties, dresses and hats. They sat in the first few rows at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre to see the first Inclusion Films project done in Solano County.

“The Bizarre Zone” was played before a packed house. In the crowd was Joey Travolta, older brother of actor John Travolta. He’s also a former special education teacher.

“It takes a village,” he said. “This is an unbelievable village.”

Source: Stories to tell: Film camp opens doors to young adults with disabilities

Students get a kick out of soccer at Fairfield Special Olympics event – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

The athlete oath for the Special Olympics is “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.

”That motto was definitely reflected in Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District’s annual Special Olympics soccer event at Fairfield High School’s Schaefer Stadium. The event was less about competition than it was about providing students with special needs a chance to have fun and strive for successful athleticism in a supportive environment, although the competitive aspect was certainly there.

Approximately, 400 students from nine elementary schools in the district turned out to participate in the fifth annual event, which was the first unified sports event held after FSUSD became a part of the Special Olympics Northern California Schools Partnership Program in 2015.

Source: Students get a kick out of soccer at Fairfield Special Olympics event – The Reporter

Sprout Touring Film Festival scheduled for Saturday – Times-Herald

By Times Herald

Arc-Solano is hosting the Sprout Touring Film Festival on Saturday which will include many excellent short films featuring people with intellectual/developmental disabilities.

There will be two screenings with the first event scheduled for Saturday inside The Rizza Auditorium at the California State University Maritime Academy campus in Vallejo. The event opens at 5 p.m. and the films begin at 6 p.m.

There will be a no-host concession stand, a raffle/silent auction, and a live auction during the intermission. The live auction will feature artwork created by individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. The evening will finish with a questions and answers session about the films by Anthony Di Salvo, the director of Sprout Films.

Source: Sprout Touring Film Festival scheduled for Saturday – Times-Herald

Fairfield woman ‘100 percent’ committed to youth, women’s golf – Daily Republic

By Todd R. Hansen

Lynda Donahue has for weeks been training as though she were about to run a half-marathon.

In reality, the Fairfield resident and retired director of special education at the Vacaville School District is just preparing to go out to play a round of golf – a 100-hole round of golf.

“I’m actually doing it for the Youth on Course Foundation, which is an organization that is part of the Northern California Golf Association,” Donahue said from Texas, where she is playing in another tournament.

Source: Fairfield woman ‘100 percent’ committed to youth, women’s golf

Parents of Kids With Special Needs Find Advice Navigating The System Online – Mindshift

By Laura McKenna

When Stasi Webber decided it was time to uproot her family from their Michigan home to find a better school for her 11-year-old son with autism, she turned to the internet for answers.

The public schools in her state don’t provide the specialized behavioral and life skills training, known as ABA therapy, that her son needs; he skips school every Tuesday and Thursday to receive these essential services. But recently, Webber learned from parents on social media that her son could get both academics and ABA training in schools in New Jersey, where she grew up.

With a tentative plan of returning to her childhood home in Mahwah, she found three or four local social media sites run by special education parents and asked about ABA services at the local district, its willingness to send students to specialized schools and comparisons with nearby towns. She put her house on the market.

Source: Parents of Kids With Special Needs Find Advice Navigating The System Online – Mindshift

Adults with developmental differences learn film skills at camp – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

In 2007, filmmaker and producer Joey Travolta founded Inclusion Films to teach filmmaking skills to individuals with developmental disabilities. This gave way to a series of camps aimed at imparting these skills to children and adults with disabilities and helping them make their own short films.

This past week, Solano students got their turn when Inclusion Films partnered with the Solano County Office of Education to bring the camp to Golden Hills Community School in Fairfield.

For the past two weeks, 48 students in the camp have been coming up with story ideas, writing scripts, memorizing lines, shooting film and doing everything that is typical of a Hollywood production.

Source: Adults with developmental differences learn film skills at camp – The Reporter

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Congratulates Winner of Special Education Learning Award – CDE

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today congratulated the Trabuco Hills High School Unified Champion School Program in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District for winning the 2019 Grazer Outstanding Achievement in Learning (GOAL) award. This award is given annually by the California Advisory Commission on Special Education (ACSE), recognizing an outstanding program that serves students with disabilities.

Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools provide students with and without disabilities opportunities for peer-to-peer engagement through sports and leadership programs.

“The inclusion practices initiated through this program provide a tremendous benefit to not only the students participating, but the entire school community,” said Thurmond. “When students with and without disabilities are provided authentic opportunities to learn and play together, this creates a climate where inclusion is the norm and diversity is honored.”

Source: State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Congratulates Winner of Special Education Learning Award – CDE

Ed. Dept. Reverts to Original Timeline for Rules on Racial Bias in Special Education – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

An Obama-era Education Department policy relating to racial bias in special education was on, then off, and now is back on again.

The rule was supposed to have gone into effect for the 2018-19 school year but was delayed for two years by the department until a court blocked that move.

The implementation whipsaw is expected to cause problems for states that had relied on the delay of the policy, which relates to disproportional representation of minorities in special education. And these new rules could affect how millions of dollars in federal special education funds are spent at the district level.

Source: Ed. Dept. Reverts to Original Timeline for Rules on Racial Bias in Special Education – On Special Education – Education Week

Special Olympics athletes get weather break at Corbus – Times-Herald

By Richard Freedman

It was a day Spider-Man, Captain America and Wonder Woman gladly surrendered the spotlight Friday to the lesser known super heroes — Special Olympics athletes.

With a weather reprieve between unusual May rains, roughly 100 special needs students ran the 50-yard dash, hurled a javelin and leaped some hurdles in the annual event at Vallejo High School’s Corbus Field.

Seven Vallejo elementary schools, three middle schools, Bethel and Vallejo high schools, Adult Transition School and the Benicia Unified School District participated — all to the delight of Dr. Adam Clark, Vallejo City Unified School District superintendent.

Source: Special Olympics athletes get weather break at Corbus – Times-Herald

Solano special needs students dance the morning away at annual prom – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

Over at Armijo High School’s gym, the bass was thumping and fists were pumping for Solano County’s annual prom Friday morning for students with special needs, which proved to be a good time for all.

With the theme being “An Evening in the Enchanted Garden,” the room was strewn with flowers and images of iconic Disney fairies. The feeling of a magic garden was captured as special needs students throughout the county got to dress in their finest outfits, play games and dance to their hearts’ content, all while getting to be themselves.

Lynne Lee, a teacher in Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District’s adapted physical education department, said the event started more than 25 years ago.

Source: Solano special needs students dance the morning away at annual prom – The Reporter

Special needs students get day to themselves at Dixon May Fair – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

In the late morning hours Friday, special education students throughout Solano County got to have the Dixon May Fair all to themselves, enjoying the rides, livestock exhibitions and food — hours before the fair officially opened for the day.

The event, held by local Rotary Clubs throughout the county in conjunction with the Solano County Office of Education, has been a staple for 26 years. Bill Seiden, event chair and member of the Vacaville Noon Rotary Club, said it started in 1993 as a fishing derby.

“There had been a previous history of a special needs gathering at the May Fair,” he said. “When I learned that, we decided to move it here as a Special Needs Day at the fair, and we’ve been doing it ever since.”

Source: Special needs students get day to themselves at Dixon May Fair – The Reporter

Education Department to Appeal Decision on Special Education Bias Rule – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

The U.S. Department of Education will appeal a judge’s ruling that could affect how school districts across the country spend millions of dollars in federal special education money.

The department has wanted to delay the implementation of a rule related to how states monitor their school districts’ identification of minority students for special education, in addition to their discipline or placement in restrictive settings. Districts found to have “significant disproportionality” of minority students in one or more of these areas, compared to white students, must set aside 15 percent of their federal special education funding to spend on remedies.

Source: Education Department to Appeal Decision on Special Education Bias Rule – On Special Education – Education Week

Fairfield-Suisun athletes compete in first middle school Special Olympics – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

With 2019 being an odd-numbered year, one would assume there are no Olympics games being held. This was not the case at Rodriguez High School Thursday morning.

For the fourth year in a row, the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District and the Special Olympics of Northern California came together to provide an assortment of track & field games and competitions for special needs and special education students in the district. In the past, elementary and high school students have had their own Special Olympics events, but this was the first year with an event exclusively for middle schoolers. Teams from the six participating schools — B. Gale Wilson, Crystal Middle School, David Weir K-8 Preparatory Academy, Grange Middle School, Green Valley Middle School and Oakbrook Academy of the Arts — paraded down the Rodriguez track, holding up banners as crowds cheered them on while Leo Arnaud’s “Bugler’s Dream” — best known as the Olympics theme — blared from the speakers.

Source: Fairfield-Suisun athletes compete in first middle school Special Olympics track event – The Reporter

What Special Education Cuts Are Really Proposed in the Trump Budget? – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

There’s been more than 24 hours of social media furor over the Trump administration’s proposal to cut the federal government’s $18 million contribution to Special Olympics.

But at least some anger also has been directed at a cut that doesn’t really exist, amplified by media outlets who repeated a congressman’s misreading of a budget table. When U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited a House education subcommittee on Tuesday, she was pressed on the budget by Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin. After sparring over Special Olympics, Pocan interrupted DeVos to talk about other programs.

Source: What Special Education Cuts Are Really Proposed in the Trump Budget? – On Special Education – Education Week

“All About Texture” & Adult Education Fundraiser – Daily Republic

The Fairfield-Suisun City Visual Arts Association invites the Public to the Solano Town Center Gallery, located at 1350 Travis Blvd., Fairfield, on the second floor outside of Macy’s. Join us in celebrating the opening of a new Exhibit, “All About Texture”. The show opens on Wednesday, April 3 at 11am and runs thru May 19. The Gallery is open Wednesday thru Sunday 11 am – 6 pm. The Opening Reception will be held on Saturday, April 6, 3-5 pm. The show will spotlight artwork by Featured Artist, Cherol Ockrassa from American Canyon. During the Reception, you can meet Cherol and other local artists, enjoy wine supplied by BackRoad Vines and light refreshments provided by the FSVAA.

Source: “All About Texture” & Adult Education Fundraiser

National School Boards Association Pushes for Federal Special Education Law Overhaul – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

Is this the year that Congress will take up the long-overdue renewal of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—plus boost funding for the law?

The National School Boards Association wants to see both. Advocating for “full funding” of IDEA is a perennial issue, but the association is also drawing attention to the fact that the law, last reauthorized in 2004, needs to be rewritten to address more up-to-date concerns about educating students with disabilities.

“This is our big initiative, our big push for this Congress,” said Thomas Gentzel, the executive director of the school boards association.

Source: National School Boards Association Pushes for Federal Special Education Law Overhaul – On Special Education – Education Week

Special needs prom gives individuals a night to shine – The Reporter

By Nick Sestanovich

The walls of the multipurpose room at Three Oaks Community Center were lined with balloons. Attendees arrived dressed in tuxedos, fedoras, red velvet dresses and high heels.

Photo booths were set up for them to take pictures with friends and hit songs by Taylor Swift, The Chainsmokers and DJ Khaled filled the room while people danced.

This could have been a scene from any high school prom. What made it unique was that the attendees were all individuals with special needs and their families, giving them their own night to remember.

Source: Special needs prom gives individuals a night to shine – The Reporter

School unlocks students’ potential by doing something radical – Daily Republic

By The Washington Post

Patrick Cox, a junior at Quaker Valley High School in the Pittsburgh suburbs, has learning disabilities, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder – ADHD – or what he calls “not giving two licks.”

Like most special-education students in this country, he has an individualized education program, known as an IEP. It is supposed to help him overcome his disability. Such programs have mixed results, but Cox’s experience has been different because of the unusual character of his school.

Educators are often reluctant to put students like him into challenging college-level courses, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate. They legitimately fear that children with disabilities will gain nothing but stress and anxiety from the experience.

Source: School unlocks students’ potential by doing something radical: Listening to them

Ed. Dept. Pushes to Reduce ‘Inappropriate’ Restraint, Seclusion in Special Education –  Education Week

By Christina Samuels

The Education Department’s offices for civil rights and for special education and rehabilitative services are teaming up to “address the inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion” on students with disabilities.

The agencies on Thursday outlined three areas that they will focus on: conducting compliance reviews of school districts, providing resources on legalities and on interventions that could “reduce the need for less effective and potentially dangerous practices”; and on improving data collection on the use of restraint and seclusion.

“This initiative will not only allow us to support children with disabilities, but will also provide technical assistance to help meet the professional learning needs of those within the system serving students,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement. “The only way to ensure the success of all children with disabilities is to meet the needs of each child with a disability. This initiative furthers that important mission.”

Source: Ed. Dept. Pushes to Reduce ‘Inappropriate’ Restraint, Seclusion in Special Education – On Special Education – Education Week