Central DE School Of The Arts For The Exceptional: New Charter School for High-Functioning Autism in Kent County? @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @Apl_Jax @RCEAPrez @ecpaige @nannyfat @DelawareBats @DeDeptofEd #netde #eduDE #edchat #Delaware

I was on Facebook and noticed a page by a proposed charter school called Central DE School Of The Arts For The Exceptional.  I went to their page, and found the following:

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Charter school offering fine and performing arts curriculum, plus specialized programming for students with high functioning autism. Program will include education and related services from qualified educators and clinicians from a team approach in a true inclusive environment. Related services will also include family and peer training, as well as sibshops for siblings of students on the spectrum, which will foster growth in every student both in school and outside of school.

So we had our first official Board Meeting yesterday and I have to say thank you to our members who were able to make it. We are in the process of revising our bylaws so we can submit our application for nonprofit status…lots of great feedback was given and I cant wait to finish this part and move forward on the fun stuff!

Looked at their curriculum and it looks like like we’ll be modeling a lot of it at our school school! ABA isn’t just for autism, which is why it’s so successful. Just one -very large- piece off the puzzle.  http://blog.theautismsite.com/new-arizona-autism-charter-school/?utm_source=social

The holidays are quickly approaching and there is so much to do! How will you be spending your holidays? If you are looking for a way to get involved, please message me!   We are currently looking for 1-3 board members who are willing to get involved, are passionate about inclusive education, and who want to offer a new, innovate way to broaden Kent County’s horizons. Join us in making a difference for our community!

Now this is actually a charter school, if done right, I could support.  While my views against charters are well-known, I do find schools like Positive Outcomes and Gateway are very beneficial for students in Delaware.  What makes schools like this stand out is the enrollment preference is a given: students with disabilities.  To be able to attend, you would have to fit this criteria.  There is no smokescreen, or confusing wording.  It is what it is.

I did a Google search on the proposed school, and I found the person trying to get this school going, Tyler Anaya.  She worked for Autism Delaware recently.  I do have some questions about this.  Who is already on the board?  Where is a proposed location?  Would they be working with the Delaware Autism Program?  (who I have heard is running out of funding at a massive rate)  Is this school exclusively for children on the Autism spectrum, or would other students with disabilities that are high-functioning status be able to attend?  I would have to think the funding for a school of this sort would have to be very large given the services these children would need.  I will certainly be reaching out to Tyler Anaya to get more information.

My Email To Matt Denn About The IEP Task Force, Denial Is Not Just A River In Egypt @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @nannyfat @roof_o #netde #eduDE #edchat #Delaware

Tomorrow night, November 12th, is the 5th meeting of the IEP Task Force.  Lieutenant Governor/future Attorney General Matt Denn has indicated the task force will continue past the drafting of the Governor’s Report, due in January 2015.  But there is one major issue this task force has not discussed, and it was brought up in public comment by myself and others.

I wrote the following email to Matt Denn as a plea for the future of the students with disabilities in Delaware abused by this process.  Not only is it a Civil Rights violation, it is also against Federal Law.

Hi Matt,

Congratulations on your victory in the election for Attorney General.  I am confident you will do great things in this role. 

I had some concerns about the IEP Task Force.  My number one problem, and always has been, is the amount of IEP denials that occur.  This occurs often in charter schools.  I spoke with Mary Ann Mieczkowski last summer about this, and she informed me there is NO protocol for monitoring the amount of denials.  No audit takes place to suggest if a denial was warranted or not.  What tends to happen is the IEP is denied, and either a 504 plan might be given or nothing happens.  The amount of protection offered by a 504 is minimal compared to an IEP for a special needs student.  For children with behavior issues who are denied an IEP, they are often “counseled out” by a charter or expelled.  Their behavior is the catalyst for these actions, but with no special education accommodations given, these students don’t stand a chance.

I know I am not a member of the task force, but I am asking, no, begging, that this topic is introduced.  I’ve brought it up a few times in public comment, but it doesn’t even appear to be an issue amongst the task force.  I know charters were brought up at the last meeting, but this particular topic didn’t come up.  When a student “switches” to another school, long-term behaviors have become a part of this student’s thinking, and it is very difficult for the next school to get a student back on track.

I am proposing the Delaware Department of Education requires all schools in Delaware under their jurisdiction to have this information reported to them, and audited by them.  While the Federal government does not mandate this, there are specific laws written into IDEA that require the schools to do things which should prevent these issues from happening in the first place.  This is a major reason why there are so many special education lawsuits in this state. 

I know the IEP Task Force may be extended past the Governor’s report in January, but I feel this is the most important issue in the whole IEP process.  Every day when something is not done is another day when a Delaware student is suffering because they don’t have the supports in place to help them.  This is the ugly part of IEPs that the DOE and legislators don’t want to look at, but it is happening, right now, and parents and students with disabilities are paying the price.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to attending the meeting tomorrow night.

Sincerely,

Kevin Ohlandt

Delaware parents of special needs children.  If you have not already given public comment or emailed Matt Denn about your own situation where your child was denied an IEP at any school in the state that you feel was not justified, please attend the meeting tomorrow night in Dover or Wilmington.  Let this task force know what happened with your child and what the negative results may have been for them.  This is the time to bring this matter under the microscope so it can be eliminated from happening to any child.  I know it can be hard speaking in public about your child, but it is the right thing to do.  The system can’t change unless more parents speak up.

Many of you have shared your stories with me, whether it was email, talking, or on social media.  This is the same thing, but with the ability for great and lasting change.  I personally do not want any child in this state to suffer the way my own did, and I feel it is my responsibility and duty as a human being to make sure events like this never happen again.