Parent-led EGUSD Inclusion Stays group demands public meeting on elimination of special education program

Before they spoke at the Elk Grove Unified School District Trustee meeting, several parents in
the EGUSD Inclusion Stays group rallied outside district headquarters on Elk Grove-Florin Road. Photo compliments of EGUD Inclusion Stays.


During their regular meeting last night, the Elk Grove Unified School District Board of Trustees and their administrators heard over an hour of commentary from parents seeking answers and solutions to why the district cut a program for special needs children.

The effort was led by a group called EGUSD Inclusion Stays. Several group members spoke during public comment on non-agenda items seeking a public hearing on why the district made drastic cuts to the Inclusion Education program with little notice to educators, parents, or students.  





The issue surfaced on August 26 when the district hastily sent an email announcing special education teachers in the Inclusion Education program would be transferred out of their roles. As described by Brandon Morgan, an organizer of the Inclusion Stays, the Inclusion Specialists help develop and implement individual education plans for children needing expanded services. 

During his comments at last night's meeting, Morgan, who has two children with special needs, noted the Elk Grove district had been touted for its special education programs. The high regard, he said, was due in part to its Inclusion Education services.  

"It came as a huge surprise when the district decided to remove this role," Morgan said. "Especially in such a haphazard way with no foresight and no plan done to ensure continuity for the children to remain successful in Inclusion."  

Morgan added that while the program's elimination will affect all children and families participating, it will devastate those in a particular group.

"This will most disproportionately affect Engish-learning parents and kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds," he stated. 

See Morgan's complete commentary in the video below. 

Other speakers echoed Morgan's concerns on how the matter was communicated and sought to have a public hearing on the issue. By law, during public comment on non-agenda items, EGUSD Trustees or administrators cannot address specific concerns. 

Identifying herself as an EGUSD employee who fears retribution for speaking, Courtney Arozena nonetheless said she was compelled to speak on behalf of her child. Arozena tearfully said her child has thrived since he entered the program six years ago, and its elimination is devastating for many families. 

"What happened to our Inclusion Specialist was asinine," she said. "It affects everyone at the school."

Several other speakers during public comment spoke on behalf of anonymous EGUSD employees who feared employment retaliation. 

After hearing over an hour of testimony, trustees and administrator indicated the issue will be placed on the agenda of one of the following two meetings on September 20 or October 4.

On the EGUSD Inclusion Stays' Facebook page, Morgan, whose August 29 guest contribution on Elk Grove News about the decision to cut the program generated considerable attention, posted the following:  


We had a small victory last night… but it was a small one - we got the meeting we asked for (kinda).
The incompetent and haphazard move to end the inclusion specialist position by Christopher Hoffman, David Reilly, and Anne Rigali however continues to proceed.
Christopher Hoffman pushed hard to delay having a dedicated meeting as far out as he could to hopefully get us to forget, and ultimately portrayed it as his opportunity to propagandize this decision with a presentation that he believes will appease us… but that won’t solve anything.
They’re gonna try other tactics to get us to quiet down… some of us louder parents may get an offer to have a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) take over our child’s case load. And these are 2 inclusion specialists who were put into that role. They are great and wonderful people, and ultimately will do a great job - but they have a limited assignment in only a few schools and the schools they are assigned to are going to be in more typically white and upper middle class neighborhoods… because the district knows that’s where most of the lawsuits come from.
Just as I’ve mentioned the fact that my kid’s title 1 school isn’t getting extra learning center support, there also isn’t going to be a TOSA assigned to our school. This is yet another way the district is disenfranchising Black, Hispanic, Asian, English Learning, and low socioeconomic background families.
The systemic racism is real, and I applaud the wonderful women from the Black Youth Leadership Project who come to EVERY board meeting to amplify that issue. Please make sure to support them! (bylp.org)
Now that we’ve gotten the board’s attention, we need to continue putting pressure on the district administration. Marginalized and vulnerable children shouldn’t be disenfranchised from the same experiences and opportunities as their peers becuase of the color of their skin, the language they speak, or the disabilities they have.
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