On Kairos agenda: New board member, SELPA agreement – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Approval of a new board member, an agreement to accept a change to the El Dorado County Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) document, and an update of the school’s special education program are on the agenda when the Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy board of directors meets tonight in Vacaville.

The directors are expected to approve the appointment of Leah Parker of Vacaville as the newest of seven board members for a three-year term. A former Buckingham Charter High teacher and the owner of Leah Dawn Photography in Vacaville, she will replace Bob Brigham.

The board also likely will approve an amended agreement with the El Dorado County SELPA, which, in October, OK’d a change in its “participation agreement,” which districts aligned to it must, in turn, approve.

Source: On Kairos agenda: New board member, SELPA agreement

How’s DeVos Handling a Big Special Education Issue? – Education Week

By Andrew Ujifusa

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos held a roundtable for advocates for children with dyslexia. Also at the meeting was Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., a long-time advocate for dyslexia issues. We called up Cassidy, who’s a member of the Senate education committee, to discuss how the meeting went and what approach he sees DeVos taking on dyslexia and other issues.

This week, our colleague Christina Samuels published a story about the anxiety many special education advocates have felt about DeVos’ leadership. When we asked Cassidy about whether he shared those concerns before or after the meeting, he said he was focused on dyslexia specifically and praised DeVos’ willingness to hear out different ideas.

“I think the fact that she convened the meeting and was so attentive throughout told us volumes,” Cassidy said. “It told us that she cares about the issue, that she wants to democratize, if you will, the opportunities for children with dyslexia. She’s going to listen.”

Source: How’s DeVos Handling a Big Special Education Issue? See Bill Cassidy’s Answer – Politics K-12 – Education Week

Students play hard at Special Olympics soccer event – The Reporter

By Jessica Rogness

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

The Special Olympics oath once again rang true Friday throughout Schaefer Stadium at Fairfield High School as elementary school students of all abilities met up for their annual soccer match.

Some 360 students from Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District elementary schools — Anna Kyle, Center, Crescent, Dan O. Root, K.I. Jones, Laurel Creek, Nelda Mundy and David Weir — paraded around the track, receiving applause from Fairfield High School students, officers from the Fairfield Police Department, California State Prison, Solano and the California Highway Patrol, as well as Fairfield firefighters.

Source: Students play hard at Special Olympics soccer event

Ed. Dept. Scrutinizing Rule on Minority Representation in Special Education – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

As a part of its regulatory reform efforts, the U.S. Department of Education is considering delaying a rule that would require states to use a standard method to determine if their districts have wide disparities in how they identify, place in segregated settings, or discipline minority students with disabilities.

As first reported by Politico, a draft Federal Register notice is seeking public comment on putting the rule off for two years. If nothing changes, the rule issued under the Obama administration is set to go into effect for the 2018-19 school year.

Districts already must use 15 percent of their special education funding to address widespread disparities in identification, placement, or discipline of such students. That funding requirement has been in place since the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but only a fraction of districts around the country have been identified as having problems big enough to require the spending shift.

Source: Ed. Dept. Scrutinizing Rule on Minority Representation in Special Education – On Special Education – Education Week

Ed. Dept. Sweeps Away Old Special Education Guidance and Regulations – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

One of the Trump administration’s first executive orders was directing federal agencies to search for—and eliminate, if possible— regulations considered to be burdensome to the American public.

On Friday, the federal office for special education and rehabilitative services took its first crack at clearing the book of “outdated, unnecessary or ineffective regulations.” In all, 63 pieces of guidance from the office for special education programs were identified for elimination, along with 9 documents fro the Rehabilitation Services Administration, for 72 documents in all.

That sounds like a lot. But it appears that many of the special education guidance documents were targeted because they’re just very old. For example, 50 of the guidance documents from OSEP marked for elimination predate the most recent reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which was passed in November 2004. One memo, which does not have a link available, is a 35-year-old letter to state chiefs about data collection for fiscal year 1983.

Source: Ed. Dept. Sweeps Away Old Special Education Guidance and Regulations – On Special Education – Education Week

Student performance, KISP on Kairos agenda tonight – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

The executive director’s monthly report, the student performance index, the Kairos Innovative Scholars Program, and the likely approval of a capitalization policy are on the agenda tonight when the Kairos board of directors meet in Vacaville.

As part of his student performance report, Executive Director Jared Austin will offer data about the Elm Street campus’ demographics, language proficiency, special education, state and federal accountability measures, attendance, community service, school climate and student conduct.

Leslie Shelby, KISP coordinator, will present the yearly update on the independent and homeschool study program, which has about 50 out of 550 students enrolled.

Chief business officer, Anita Schwab will present the resolution for the capitalization policy, necessary to set a reasonable threshold for all types of school assets and to include the depreciation method used to make calculations about the useful life of those assets.

Source: Student performance, KISP on Kairos agenda tonight

BUSD highlights successes, areas for improvement in state test results – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia Unified School District outlined positive highlights and areas for improvement when data from the most recent Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) was presented at Thursday’s Governing Board meeting.

The SBAC was initiated in 2015 and replaced the previous California Standards Test following the state’s shift to Common Core practices. The statewide assessment is given to all students in grades 3 to 8 and 11 in the areas of math and English Language Arts (ELA). According to Dr. Leslie Beatson, BUSD’s assistant superintendent of educational services, the test is taken on a computer and quizzes students in a variety of formats, including multiple choice, short answer, constructed response and performance test. The test also utilizes a concept called universal design where accommodations such as enlarged text or Individualized Education Program arrangements for special education students can be built in.

Source: BUSD highlights successes, areas for improvement in state test results

Official lauds ‘destination district’ status for Fairfield-Suisun schools – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

The Fairfield-Suisun School District’s status as a “destination district” for teachers will help deal with special education issues the California Department of Education identified, the special education director for Fairfield-Suisun says.

“Fairfield does a terrific job of making this a destination district for teachers,” Tom Anderson said.

Teachers get wonderful curriculum and professional development support at schools and from the district office, he said at a school board meeting Wednesday to discuss two state reports about special education in the district.

Source: Official lauds ‘destination district’ status for Fairfield-Suisun schools

FSUSD Trustees to meet for study session about state reports – Daily Republic

By Ryan McCarthy

Trustees for the Fairfield-Suisun School District will take part in a special meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday about California Department of Education reviews of special education in the district.

The first review analyzed individual educational plans of special education students and interventions taken before a student is recommended for special education assessment, according to a school district staff report.

The second review studied “disproportionality” of students who qualify for special education and steps the district needs to implement to reduce disproportionality, the staff report said.

Source: Trustees to meet for study session about state reports on special education in Fairfield-Suisun School District

New Benicia High School bell schedule, special education model discussed at BUSD board meeting – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Two of the biggest changes at Benicia High School this year are the adoption of a new bell schedule and the switch to a new special education model. Items on both were presented at Thursday’s school board meeting.

Bell schedule

The implementation of a new bell schedule at Benicia High has been in the works ever since it was suggested as a goal by a Western Association of Schools and Colleges visitation team more than two years ago. After two years of conducting research, soliciting feedback from the community and presenting various possibilities for a new schedule to go into effect in the 2017-2018 school year, Benicia High announced a new schedule in May. Rather than students having a non-rotating six-period schedule for all five days of the week, students will only have that schedule for three days of the week. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, students will have a block schedule consisting of three 86-minute classes each day. Odd-numbered classes will meet on Wednesdays, even-numbered classes will meet on Thursdays, and school will end for students 30 minutes earlier.

Source: New Benicia High School bell schedule, special education model discussed at Thursday’s school board meeting

Benicia High’s special education department to undergo changes – Benicia Herald

By Nick Sestanovich

Benicia High School is in the process of changing its special education model to allow students with disabilities to have greater access to general education courses, according to a letter sent out by Dr. Carolyn Patton, the director of special services for the Benicia Unified School District.Patton said a number of things influenced the district’s decision to move away from Benicia High’s current model, including the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District which stipulated that Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) should give students higher standards in education. Another was the California Department of Education, which requires districts to increase the percentage of students who spend 80 percent of their day in the general education environment.

Patton said the district had also been looking into laws provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990.“There’s always been an emphasis for kids to be in the general ed environment with correct support,” she said in an interview with the Herald. “Districts are supposed to start with that premise that if a student can be educated in general ed with support from the special education department, then that’s where they’re supposed to be.”

Source: Benicia High’s special education department to undergo changes

Special Olympics front and center in Assembly – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Assemblyman Jim Frazier on Monday passed a special resolution declaring May 22 as Special Olympics Day, then presented proclamations recognizing two affiliated organizations.

“It’s beyond amazing that 96,000 Californians have the opportunity each year to participate in the sports they love while developing lifelong friendships and skills,” Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, said in a statement released by his office.

“When I was in high school, I helped a dear friend who had a disability of his own play a game on the football team and from that moment I knew how much it meant for him to feel included, and how great it was for the whole team. I see that same fulfillment in everyone involved with the Special Olympics,” Frazier said.

Source: Special Olympics front and center in Assembly

Students countywide enjoy special prom at Armijo – The Reporter

By Kimberly K. Fu

They stomped and danced and threw beach balls in the air Friday morning all while clad for comfort and celebration.

Must have been the 25th annual prom for students with adapted physical education needs.

Bus after bus arrived from the Vacaville, Dixon and Fairfield-Suisun school districts, each carrying students of all ages who were ready to party.

The celebrants gathered in the Armijo High School gym, passing through entrances strewn with glittery silver stars.

Source: Students countywide enjoy special prom at Armijo

Dixon May Fair caters to special needs students with early opening – The Reporter

By Jessica Rogness

Friday marked Kid’s Day at the Dixon May Fair, but the fun started even earlier for students in special education classes from across Solano County.

The Jest in Time Circus on the Family Fun Stage was a favorite for students visiting from Tremont Elementary School in Dixon.

Laughter pealed from under the big top as “Topper Todd” and “Li Li Zucchini” exhibited their antics for the kids, parents and teachers with juggling pins, toilet paper and Lucky the little white dog.

Then it was on to the Butler Amusements Carnival for some thrills.

Source: Dixon May Fair caters to special needs students with early opening

Budget Deal for 2017 Includes Increases for Title I, Special Education – Education Week

By Andrew Ujifusa

Federal lawmakers have agreed to relatively small spending increases for Title I programs to districts and for special education, as part of a budget deal covering the rest of fiscal 2017 through the end of September.

Title I spending on disadvantaged students would rise by $100 million up to $15.5 billion from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2017, along with $450 million in new money that was already slated to be shifted over from the now-defunct School Improvement Grants program.

And state grants for special education would increase by $90 million up to $12 billion. However, Title II grants for teacher development would be cut by $294 million, down to about $2.1 billion for the rest of fiscal 2017.

The bill would also provide $400 million for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program, also known as Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Title IV is a block grant that districts can use for a wide range of programs, including health, safety, arts education, college readiness, and more.

Source: Budget Deal for 2017 Includes Increases for Title I, Special Education – Politics K-12 – Education Week

Special day for special children at Armijo High School – Daily Republic

By Susan Hiland

The Armijo High School gym was filled to capacity Thursday with plenty of cheering as a show of support for the Special Olympics Track and Field competition.

Originally planned for the track outside, rain chased everyone into the gym where special education students from the Fairfield-Suisun School District were paired with partners from Armijo High.

“This is the first year we have hosted this,” said Carly Perales, athletic director for Armijo.

It was standing room only in the gym – one side had students from classes and the other side had guests from special education classes from across the district.

Source: Special day for special children at Armijo High School

Special Olympics high school athletes have first track event – The Reporter

By Jessica Rogness

Thursday’s downpour couldn’t dampen the spirit of the Special Olympics at Armijo High School.

Stacie Moore, Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District assistant director of special education, arrived at the school early Thursday for the district’s first collaborative high school track and field event for its adapted physical education students.

It could have been terrible for the outdoor event, Moore said, but then she watched as the school’s leadership team, teachers, students and other volunteers pulled together to move everything inside the gym.

Source: Special Olympics high school athletes have first track event

Travis park proponents ask supporters to nominate project for $20K grant – Daily Republic

By Ian Thompson

A Travis nonprofit trying to build a park designed for special needs children could use your vote.

Friends of Family Services is asking people to nominate their project for a $20,000 grant from the National Recreation and Park Association program called Meet Me At The Park by going onto the association’s website at NRPA.org/BeInspired and nominate the proposed park project between now and April 30.

The NRPA is collaborating with The Walt Disney Company, including Disney Citizenship, Disney|ABC Television Group and ESPN, to revitalize parks across the U.S. for a third year. The city that receives the most nominations will receive a $20,000 grant to improve a local park.

Source: Travis park proponents ask supporters to nominate project for $20K grant

Special Education Funding Maintained in Trump Administration Budget Blueprint – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

The “skinny” budget blueprint released by the Trump administration Thursday would maintain current spending levels for special education—about $13 billion, most of which is money sent directly to states.

The budget blueprint is just the beginning of a long process. While this document shows the administration’s priorities, it is Congress that ultimately passes spending legislation. And lawmakers have their own ideas about what programs should be cut, and which should be kept.

But, if these funding amounts were to stay in place, the federal contribution for special education and related services would be about 16 percent of the excess costs of educating a student with a disability, compared to a general education student.

In 1975, when the federal government passed the law that was to become the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Congress authorized paying states up to 40 percent of the excess costs of educating a student with disabilities, based on national per-pupil expenditures. But in the 40-plus years of the law’s existence, the federal government has never gotten close to meeting that goal. The Trump administration is not different from other administrations in that regard.

Source: Special Education Funding Maintained in Trump Administration Budget Blueprint – On Special Education – Education Week

Solano Office of Education offers “transition fair” – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Parents with students who have disabilities or are in special education programs, and who are enrolled in middle school, high school or a transition program are invited to attend the Transition Information Fair from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Solano County Office of Education.

More than 40 agencies from Solano County and the surrounding area will be there to provide information about their services. The event is hosted by the Workforce Development Department of the county Office of Education.

Source: Solano Office of Education offers “transition fair” – Daily Republic