Parent protestors this year helped unveil one of the largest school district planning mistakes in San Diego county. Nearly one million dollars of taxpayers’ funds was used to build the district’s four year transition facility for disabled students, which ultimately turned out to be way too small and neglected to contain the best practices recommended for students with disabilities (although those best practices were used for the non-disabled classrooms only yards away). The district’s capital facilities funds were used, not Prop AA funding.
Watchdog recently learned that transition teachers MaryJeanette Lindebak, Maryanne Rather and Carolyn Wong had worked with administrators Amy Briggs and Chuck Adams to design what one of the teachers called the “pseudo new portables.”
Per parent reports at the August public forum held at Earl Warren Middle School, Adams (and teachers) had repeatedly told parents that the new facility would not be in portables and instead would be in “state-of-the-art” classrooms, even though emails, purchase orders and other documents showed that portables were always the classroom “solution” considered for the disabled students. Even after the board approved the purchase of the portables this past May, Adams still insisted in at least one email that the classrooms were not portables.
During a community walk through in August, the two portables purchased to be used as permanent classrooms could barely house fifteen seated students in each, even though the program this fall has a total of around seventy adults, which includes three teachers, aides and disabled students. The Disability Rights of California organization (DRC) sent a letter this summer informing the district that the placement of disabled students in such a segregated facility at the Earl Warren Middle School violated state and federal laws.
State law requires that new facilities be master planned and presented to the public to avoid such missteps, and designed in a way to provide for growth, but for unknown reasons these important and required measures under the CA Ed Code — designed to avoid the wasting of public funds — were not followed.
The district moved the program temporarily to La Costa Canyon High School (LCC), but unanswered questions remain.
How did this costly mistake happen in the first place?
Why did the district not have a better grasp on the student numbers so that this costly waste of taxpayers’ public funds could have been avoided?
Stay tuned as Watchdog tries to get answers.