NEWS ALERT: San Dieguito holds public forum to address discrimination claims
Date: July 27, 2017 at 5:24:41 PM PDT
Solana Beach, CA - IMMEDIATE RELEASE
With only four weeks until school starts, the San Dieguito Union High School District will host a public forum Friday, July 28 at 10 am at the Earl Warren Middle School auditorium to respond to concerns raised by the community regarding the controversial relocatable classrooms purchased this past May for disabled students to use this fall. The two relocatable classrooms were purchased at a time when Prop AA funding is being used to "replace existing modular or portable classrooms" for students on other campuses.
Unlike the new facilities built with Prop AA bond money, the four year transition facility for the district’s disabled students was excluded from the Prop AA master plans shared with the community several years ago. The facility was not subject to review by the district's Prop AA oversight committee because Capital Facilities and/or Mello-Roose funds were used instead of Prop AA bond funds. Parents have raised concerns that the moving of disabled students to this segregated location away from nondisabled students and in facilities that were not master planned or shared with the public violates the CA Ed Code as well as other state and federal laws.
They are not alone. Today the Disability Rights of California organization sent a letter to the Board alerting it of concerns it had with respect to the placement of disabled students in relocatables at this segregated location. This stand-alone transition facility is located on the northern side of the Earl Warren Middle School campus near the location of Stevens and Lomas Santa Fe, but has no on-site administrator to oversee or support the staff or students like the district’s other school facilities.
Earl Warren Middle School, only a few yards away, was built and designed with the support of over $54 million of Prop AA bond money and has close to 20’ tall expansive classrooms with floor to ceiling windows large enough to fit 3 side by side whiteboards. LED lighting, and northern and southern windows that open to allow for cross-breezes are but some of the many of the state-of-the-art features incorporated into the campus buildings. The district also funded a part of the nearby library to offer similar features to that of the middle school for what has been identified as a “teen room” or “Warren Hall" for use by both the library and middle school campus.
The relocatable classrooms, identified as “interim modular classrooms” per the plans filed with the state and CA Coastal Commission, were purchased for just over $400,000 from Class Leasing, LLC, the same company that leased the Earl Warren Middle School interim portables to the district. It is unknown at this time why this project was not submitted for public bidding. The plans filed did not state that the “interim" classrooms were being used solely for disabled students or that they were intended as permanent classrooms.
The transition classrooms currently contain fluorescent lighting, only three small windows and other features that parents complain are not sensitive to the needs of the students expected to learn. Per the vision of the Prop AA 2008 task force, funding was needed to create high performance environments, rich for learning and to accommodate growth in population and programs. Concerns have been raised that the transition facility created this year has already been outgrown by the students expected to attend there August 29. Forty-seven students, three teachers and more than 10 instructional aides are expected to fit into the two relocatables even though the program last year had the same number of portables and less than half of the students. There is currently no classroom space assigned to the third teacher. Both the transition facility and the Earl Warren Middle School were built at the same time, on the same campus and designed by the architectural firm of Lionakis per the architectural plans filed with public agencies.
There is approximately 630 square foot of space in each of the two classrooms. The CA Ed code requires a minimum of 960 for regular classrooms and often more for self-contained classrooms for students with disabilities. These classrooms will be used by students with mild moderate disabilities as well as those students more impacted by physical and/or intellectual disabilities, some of whom are in wheelchairs and many of whom are not independent. The majority of students attending these generally come from special education tracks in the district called TAP (transitional alternative program), or FLS (functional living skills, formerly called severely handicapped), which are special ed tracks for students who are not working towards a diploma. It is not clear why the district did not know the number of students expected to attend the transition program because students are usually placed in these non-diploma bound programs around 9th grade, 4 years before these tracks feed into the transition program.
Families have been raising concerns about the placement of the transition program for over two years through the district’s reps to the Community Advisory Committee for the North Coastal Consortium and the district’s special education forum. Over the past year the members of the newly created district spec ed forum committee were assured that the transition program would be in “state of the art” classrooms. An email from the special education director to a parent even went so far as to state, “The [transition] facilities are new buildings, they are not portables. … There was never any intent for it to look like EWMS, in fact we want it to be different.”
Parents remain hopeful that the district will do the right thing and present possible solutions that comply with protections afforded persons with disabilities so that they and the staff know where the students will be going this fall.
Disability Rights of California sends letter to SDUHSD - See Letter
Prop AA “Friends Night Out” Earl Warren Middle School presentation, April 9, 2015 (Vision of the 2008 Task Force,”Friends of the Library project” which adds a Teen Room/“Warren Hall" to the nearby library)
Lionakis ATP Classroom Layout
3D Rendering of EWMS Campus (does not contain transition facility), Posted April 4, 2015 on SDUHSD Facebook Site.