AirTalk for July 25, 2013

LAUSD parents fight against integrating their disabled children into mainstream classrooms

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Should students in special education centers be transferred to traditional schools?

Four special-education centers are scheduled to merge with nearby mainstream schools. According to Daily News Los Angeles, this affects about 300 disabled students who have to be integrated in August 2013 into traditional schools.

Parents of these students yesterday protested against LAUSD's move. The parents say many of their children are not ready to be transferred and that the decision to place them in a traditional school is a parental decision, not the district's. 

“It’s not a one size fits all,” says Dr. Frances Stetson, director of the Inclusive Schools Network. "Way back in Brown v. Board of Education, we ruled that there is no such thing as separate but equal. I believe that same principle applies to children with disabilities.”

Stetson went on to add that those students are missing peer-to-peer relationship opportunities, like communication and interpersonal skills. On the other hand, Rhonda Berrios, parent of an autistic child attending Leichman Special Education Center, says that merging the schools would be a disservice to special needs students.

“These are kids who have seizures all day long. They’re on very heavy medication. They’re all in wheelchairs … These are kids where 911 is called on a regular basis," she said. Berrios was among other parents at the protest yesterday, calling for parental involvement regarding the merge.

 “What parents want is the right to choose,” Berrios said.

Special needs students will continue to have classroom lessons tailored to their level of learning, and those who need it will be accompanied by aides and nurses as they have in the past. However, physical education, arts classes and library time will be spent with the general school population. 

 Guests:

Dr. Frances Stetson, President of Stetson and Associates, an education consulting firm in Houston, Texas. She is also the Director of the Inclusive Schools Network

Rhonda Berrios, parent of autistic child attending Leichman Special Education Center

Nuran Alteir contributed to this web article


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