By Murray Bass
Last year I had breakfast and conversation at Huckleberry’s and then a visit to Mary Bird School with Fairfield-Suisun School District Superintendent Kris Corey.
We share an interest in the education – development – of children. Her interest is professional, mine is more amateur.
Kris invited me to join her to look at what was going on at Mary Bird School. Mary Bird is a school for young children with special needs, kids 3 and 4 years old.
Source: My visit to Mary Bird School an education
By Ben Johnson
The law requires that students classified as special education have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Everything must be documented, and the responsibility for providing special education services specified in the IEP is in the hands of the school staff.
Each child who has an IEP also has an IEP team. The team includes the child and his or her parents, the child’s teachers, a counselor, an administrator, and a special education coordinator or teacher. I recently attended an IEP team meeting for a student at the high school where I teach Spanish. I listened attentively to the special education coordinator, who sat behind a laptop reviewing evaluations, the student’s progress in the core classes, and the appropriateness of the interventions prescribed for her learning disability. One by one, the elements required in an IEP meeting were completed.
Source: How to Make IEP Meetings More Effective | Edutopia
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
A handful of mothers with special needs children traveled 25 years ago to Silveyville Christmas Tree Farm for a Happy Holidays celebration.
The tradition continued Friday with nearly 300 children representing Fairfield, Suisun City, Vacaville, Travis Air Force Base and Dixon.
For two hours, the special-needs children, their parents and classroom aides were able to walk through the Christmas trees, take a sleigh ride, sip on hot cider, nibble on popcorn and be themselves.
Kerry Purcell was one of the original moms. Today, her grandchildren help out at the event.
“It’s an opportunity for families, who don’t get a lot of opportunities, to do things as a family,” she said. “No one here is going to judge them.”
Source: Special-needs children celebrate special day at Silveyville tree farm
By Richard Bammer
To place a troubled child on path to success “really does take a village,” the director of the Desert Mountain Children’s Center said at the official opening Thursday of a new county testing and evaluation program for children suffering from ongoing developmental, social, emotional, behavioral and communication challenges.
Speaking to a group of 40, mostly school district superintendents, educators and behavior specialists, Linda Llamas called the “partners” who helped to open the Solano Comprehensive Assessment Research and Evaluation (CARE) Clinic in Fairfield “agents of change” for troubled youngsters and their families who seek services at the clinic, which is housed in a building behind Child Haven, at 801 Empire St., Fairfield.
Source: Child Haven officially opens testing, evaluation clinic
By Kathryn Nieves
One of the biggest problems I encounter as a resource room teacher is the self-esteem of the students in my classes. After years of disappointing academic experiences, their confidence is low and their motivation has declined. Combine those points with the peer pressure, bullying, and stresses of middle school, and the students do not have a positive outlook on their education.
In my classroom, technology is a tool for empowerment—it creates a collaborative and innovative space for all students. Along with over 50 million educators and students, I am primarily using Google’s G Suite for Education. The suite is a bundle of Google’s key products, such as Drive, Docs, Slides, and Forms, along with new tools like Google Classroom. While I used these applications in a middle school classroom, the following strategies are appropriate for any age from upper elementary students to high school seniors.
Source: Using Technology to Empower Students With Special Needs | Edutopia
By Richard Bammer
Revisions to admission preferences and an update on special programs are on the agenda when Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy leaders meeting tonight in Vacaville.
Directors at the Elm Street independent charter school will be asked to consider several amendments to the school’s charter, in accord with state law, as they relate to admission preferences.
Among the changes, as noted by board secretary Anna Rivera in agenda documents, are preferences given to current students; siblings of current students; children or grandchildren of Kairos employees or members of the board of directors; the students of other Kairos programs; and students on the waitlist from the previous year (who submitted an application during the open application period for current-year enrollment).
Source: Changes to admission preferences, update on special ed on Kairos agenda tonight
By Richard Bammer
Solano County families and parents with special education children will get a little more help with the opening of a new early assessment and intervention program for youngsters suffering from ongoing developmental, social, emotional, behavioral and communication challenges.
The Solano Comprehensive Assessment Research and Evaluation (CARE) Clinic will open Thursday at Child Haven, 801 Empire St., Fairfield.
There, children ages 2 years, 9 months to 5 years, 6 months (and their caregivers) can experience an intensive, early assessment and intervention program, Jodie Phan, director of Personnel Development and Consultation Services for the Solano County Office of Education’s Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA), wrote in a press release issued Monday.
Source: Child Haven to open testing, evaluation clinic for special ed children – The Reporter
By Jessica Rogness
More than 400 Fairfield students of all abilities gathered Thursday for a Special Olympics soccer event.
Schaefer Stadium at Fairfield High School was packed with K-5 students from Anna Kyle, Center, Crescent, Dan O. Root, K. I. Jones, Laurel Creek, Nelda Mundy, Oakbrook and David Weir.
The event opened with a Special Olympics torch rally. A student from each school’s special education program ran to pass the plastic torch to the next, guided by officers from the Fairfield Police Department and California Highway Patrol.
Source: Fairfield High School hosts Special Olympics soccer event
By David Bulley
When Jimmy, a 6th grader with significant social and emotional disabilities, was sent out of English class every day one week, he devised a plan. On Friday, he smuggled a pair of handcuffs into school, and upon arriving at English class, instead of grabbing his “do now” and sitting down, he ran straight to the teacher’s desk and handcuffed himself to it.
The teacher, a kind and in many ways excellent instructor, was shocked. The teacher and I unlocked Jimmy soon enough, but later, when we had a quiet moment to reflect, I said, “You teach English. Can you see the symbolism here?” Jimmy desperately wanted to stay in class but did not know how. And to compound this tiny tragedy, it seemed obvious he had no one to ask.
Source: Helping Troubled Students, One Relationship at a Time | Edutopia
By Daily Republic Staff
The Solano County Office of Education is one step closer to building a new special education campus at the site of Irene Larsen Educational Center in Vacaville.
“The current plan is to tear down the current buildings and build a new building at the (site),” said Tommy Welch, associate superintendent of administrative services and operations for the county agency.
All the special education classrooms will be placed in a single building with one entry point for added security, Welch said. The plans will be submitted to the Division of the State Architect for review, after which a pre-bid budget for the project will be established.
Source: Law helps with Solano special education center project
By Julia Steiny
Naturally, Faina Davis, a lawyer and head of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY), would have a happy-ish story about what happens when troubled kids connect with adults who practice Restorative Justice. Far more often, kids misbehave, get punished, misbehave, get punished, in an endlessly destructive cycle. But Restoration works to interrupt this cycle by solving whatever was driving the misbehavior in the first place.
An 11th grader, whom Davis calls Cameron, transferred into a Restorative Oakland high school. He’d already become, as she put it, one of those “scary-dude kids” with saggy pants, a black hoodie and a horrible attitude. Such charmers come to her through the Oakland’s schools, which have become demonstration sites for restorative justice.
On his first day at the new school, Cameron met with the school’s Director. Cameron probably expected, per usual, to get yelled at, berated, and threatened with dire consequences for any more misdeeds. Instead, this Restorative Director put aside the thick folder of records of Cameron’s academic failures, suspensions and arrests. Start fresh. Cameron couldn’t suddenly become an angel. But together he and the Director would deal with the obstacles in the way of building a brighter, healthier path for this angry adolescent.
Source: Chronically Misbehaving Kids Suffer Mental and Social Disease
By Richard Bammer
Several Measure A contracts and a contract to lease a Peabody Road site to eventually house the district’s Independent Study program are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified leaders meet tonight in Vacaville.
The seven-member governing board will consider approval of a three-year lease with An Phu Investment for the office space at 1949 Peabody Road. Besides the IS program, it also will provide additional office space for the district’s Special Education department.
(In the interim, until the new space is ready for occupancy, the district’s IS program offices will remain at Sierra Vista, a newly configured TK-8 school that officially opened to fanfare Wednesday, one day before the district’s first school day of the new year.)
Source: Vacaville Unified leaders to mull several Measure A contracts, Independent Study contract
By Ryan McCarthy
She wore a gray tank top that read, “Retired Teacher – All Children Left Behind,” and had 25 years of memories about classrooms, students and more paperwork than she wanted to remember.
Kathy Cruice, who taught at schools that include Travis Elementary, said at Laurel Creek Park, where retired teachers gathered Wednesday, that the start of this school year came without any nightmares of back-to-school logistics gone wrong.
Source: Retirees miss children, colleagues, classrooms – but not paperwork, tests
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that he has appointed Kristin Wright as the new Special Education Division Director at the California Department of Education (CDE). She begins her assignment September 1.
Wright has spent more than a decade working in education with a focus on special education. Since December 2014, she has worked for the California State Board of Education as an Education Policy Consultant and liaison between the State Board and the CDE on a variety of subjects, including special education, child nutrition, foster and homeless youth, and computer science.
In 2013 and 2014, she worked as an Education Programs Consultant within CDE’s Special Education Division, serving as a liaison to the Advisory Commission on Special Education (ACSE) and consulting on program and policy matters related to California’s Common Core State Standards and accessibility for students with disabilities. She served as a State Senate appointee to the ACSE from 2006 to 2013 and was chair of the advisory commission from 2009 to 2013.
Source: Director of Special Education Division – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
A new Vacaville Unified program will bring together preschoolers with and without disabilities to learn together, district officials have announced.
Integrated Preschool Program classes, to be offered at Hemlock Elementary and the Irene Larsen Preschool Center, are intended “to help children experience different developmental, social and behavioral models from other children,” Rae Ann Quinata, an assistant in the district’s public information office, wrote in a press release.
The blended environment, in two-hour per day classroom settings, emphasizes compassion, understanding and positive perceptions of diversity and disability, she added.
In the written statement, Kuljeet Nijjar, a district special education preschool coordinator, said the program will provide “greater compassion and a more positive perception of children with disabilities.”
Source: New Vacaville school program to pair preschoolers with and without disabilities
By Christina Samuels
Some parents of students with disabilities see a clear benefit to voucher programs to escape public schools that are a poor fit, even though the vouchers rarely pay the full cost of private school tuition and, in some cases, accepting one means giving up rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The Council for Parent Attorneys and Advocates, a group that supports the legal and civil rights of students with disabilities, surveyed the landscape of voucher and other school choice programs in a June 8 report called School Vouchers and Students with Disabilities: Impact in the Name of Choice. (COPAA has organized a panel on the report for Congressional staffers that I am moderating.)
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice says that 11 states have voucher programs that are explicitly for students with disabilities, or that include students with disabilities among other targeted student groups (for example, students in schools deemed to be failing, or from low-income families). They are: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin.
Source: Parents of Students With Disabilities Seek Vouchers Despite Risks, Report Says – On Special Education – Education Week
By Irma Widjojo
The intermittent gusty winds and chilly weather Friday did not stop nearly 200 Vallejo students from having fun and being winners.
The Vallejo school district’s special education students, along with their teachers and families, gathered at Vallejo High School’s Corbus Field for the 44th annual Vallejo City Unified School District Special Olympics.
“It’s great for them to be part of a community event,” said Kathy Hellfeier, Widenmann Elementary special education teacher. “It makes them feel like stars and (helps them) be active for the day.”
via: Everyone’s a winner at Vallejo Special Olympics – Times Herald
By Mayrene Bates
Just in case some of us may have forgotten, Tuesday was California School Bus Driver’s Day. I am a huge cheerleader for school bus drivers and each year try to make it a top priority to ride, at least, one of the routes – usually out of town.
I always return enthused, as I get to meet a new driver or renew an acquaintance with a driver who I’ve ridden with before like Eliane Medina. I also get to meet the children, of course, as well as greet parents who meet the bus to see their children off to school.
This School Bus Driver’s Day I was excited about taking the bus at 7 a.m. from the Solano County Office of Education’s transportation yard on Clay Bank Road and head out to schools in Fairfield and Green Valley with driver Medina. By the time we returned to the yard, it was time to join everyone for a mouth-watering barbecue to honor theses special heroes of the road.
Source: School bus drivers vital link to home, school
By Katrina Schwartz
Students’ behavior is a form of communication and when it’s negative it almost always stems from an underlying cause. There are many reasons kids might be acting out, which makes it difficult for a teacher in a crowded classroom to figure out the root cause. But even if there was time and space to do so, most teachers receive very little training in behavior during their credentialing programs. On average, teacher training programs mandate zero to one classes on behavior and zero to one courses on mental health. Teacher training programs mostly assume that kids in public schools will be “typical,” but that assumption can handicap teachers when they get into real classrooms.
A National Institute of Health study found that 25.1 percent of kids 13-18 in the US have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders. No one knows how many more haven’t been diagnosed. Additionally between eight and 15 percent of the school-aged population has learning disabilities (there is a range because there’s no standard definition of what constitutes a learning disability). Nine percent of 13-18 year-olds have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (although the number one misdiagnoses of anxiety is ADHD), and 11.2 percent suffer from depression.
Source: 20 Tips to Help De-escalate Interactions With Anxious or Defiant Students | MindShift | KQED News
By Byrd Pinkerton
“Discuss, monitor, and educate.”
That’s Kortney Peagram’s advice to parents and teachers who want to help special needs teens lead an online life. She wrote up some of her experiences as a psychologist working to reduce cyberbullying in Chicago for our friends at NPR’s All Tech Considered.
Students can definitely benefit from social media, Peagram says. For kids who can’t be touched, or who can’t look people in the eye, digital networks are a chance to share pictures and interests, and an opportunity to have a social life.
But the internet can be a dangerous place, especially for kids who may struggle with communication.
Source: What Special Ed Teachers and Parents Need To Know About Social Media : NPR Ed : NPR