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Executive Summary

On behalf of the Special Education Workgroup (SEW), I [Karin Reynolds] provide in this report the work of the SEW as members sought to address their charge to study district needs and issue findings and recommendations related to serving special education students effectively and efficiently.

Meetings and Membership of the SEW

The SEW membership consisted of five ad-hoc members who attended the first five meetings to provided information that would serve to guide the findings and recommendations in this report and 26 active members. This work group’s active membership was made up of:

  • One facilitator;

  • Three building administrators (elementary, middle, and high);

  • Eleven parents of students identified as needing special education support: this was a diverse group based upon schooling level and programming support received);

  • Five special education educators: this was a diverse group made up of one elementary school special education teacher, one middle school special education teacher, one high school special education teacher, as well as diversity of educators in the resource/severe needs programs;

  • Three classified staff members/paraprofessionals who serve special education students; and,

  • One out-of-district special education professional.

The work group held meetings from June 14 – December 15, 2022. Agendas and minutes from the meetings are posted to the ASD20 Special Education website. Attendance was exemplary as members were dedicated to this work. Specifics about attendance are listed on each of the meeting notes in Appendix B.

SEW Collaborative Input Model for decision making and meeting protocol:

The ASD20 Collaborative Input Model (CIM) and norms established at our first meeting guided our work. The first five information gathering meetings were open to the public. One community member attended twice as an observer of the process. In addition, I met with you three different occasions since the beginning of this work to briefly update you about the work of the group, and timelines. Stakeholder groups that meet monthly were updated about this work, and you ensured them that you would share highlights of the report at stakeholder meetings during second semester. (The full CIM can be found in Appendix A.)

Summary of Process that Resulted in Recommendations

To honor the charge that speaks to studying the district needs and issue findings and recommendations, the SEW engaged in processes that are often used in D20’s external review and site planning efforts. We used the first five meetings to gather information from ad hoc members and host a panel of itinerants to seek clarification about special education practices and policies as follows: (All agendas and meeting notes can be found in Appendix B.)

  • District and SPED information (Dr. Susan Field and Dr. Belinda Lujan-Lindsey) (meeting 1)

  • Financing Special Education (Ms. Becky Allan) (Meeting 2)

  • Special Education Legal Requirements (Ms. Tonya Thompson) (Meeting 3)

  • Special Education Staffing (Dr. Belinda Lujan-Lindsey and Mr. Cameron Smart) (Meeting 4)

  • Itinerant Panel (Meeting 5)

SEW member asked many questions and began to think about the recommendations that would address findings of concern, as can be seen in detail in the minutes that follow each of the agendas in Appendix B. You will see that this was a thoughtful and engaged group who asked many questions and asked for clarification around many topics at each meeting. In addition to this information gathering, the SEW sought student feedback (via a survey that was provided to all special education students) about their experiences in special education. (Results are detailed in Appendix C.) This brief survey was developed under the leadership of Ms. Allison Cortez and Ms. Belinda Lujan-Lindsey following suggestions from the SEW about questions to ask.

Following these five meetings, ad hoc members were dismissed from attending meetings going forward so that the process of making recommendations would only include the 26 active/voting members of the SEW. During our three remaining meetings and a variety of “homework assignments” and email communications, we revisited the ASD 20 mission statement, the special education inclusion statement, and the SEW Collaborative Input Model as reminders about what guides our work.

SEW members participated in a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis which resulted in the recommendations that they provide here. Full detail of this process can be found in the meeting minutes from November and December (Appendix B), and full detail about the SWOT analysis findings can be found in Appendix D.

In brief, the SEW members spoke often to the need for more transparency, relationship building efforts, and accountability processes around special education across the district. The recommendations, then, fall into the following five areas that they believe will begin to re-establish a level of trust and partnership that will serve all students and parents:

  1. Parent Communication

  2. Staff Communication

  3. Training

  4. Systems/Processes

  5. Recruitment and Retention

Read the full report.