Three years ago today, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed Senate Bill #33 into law. Among the many changes to Delaware special education, one of the key facets of this legislation was the following:
- 3125. Parent Councils.
Each school district and charter school enrolling any child with disabilities shall, on an annual basis, contact the parents of each such child to attempt to facilitate the creation and maintenance of a parent council for the parents of students with disabilities. Parent councils will advocate generally for students with disabilities and provide person-to- person support for individual parents and children. The charter schools and school districts shall collaborate and coordinate with existing parent groups and other information and support groups to facilitate creation, maintenance, and effectiveness of the Parent Councils.
While my own son was not in Capital School District when districts and charter schools were required to create the Parent Councils, he was for the 2017-2018 school year. I contacted the Special Services Office at Capital this morning and was told letters went out to parents about the Parent Councils. I advised them I never received such a letter. Apparently there were three meetings during this school year. The maximum attendance at any of these meetings was eight parents, at the first meeting. There is absolutely no mention of the Parent Councils anywhere on the district website. None of their school websites have this information on them either.
I don’t feel we, as parents, should have to wait around for the district to comply to state law. To that end, I am creating a Capital School District Parent Group and I invite all to attend. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you interested in joining this group. Even though it is the summer and our kids are out of school, I believe we should meet and hold discussions on what the district is doing in terms of special education for our children. Three meetings over one school year is not enough. I believe we should meet monthly and if warranted to get things going, every other week. It is also my intention that we should pick a spokesperson for the group to present our findings at each Capital Board of Education meeting each month. They generally meet on the third Wednesday of each month. Even if you believe the district is doing everything right, we want to hear from you. I will also create a Facebook group which will be private so we can discuss things in a private forum. If you would like to join this Facebook group, please message me on my own personal Facebook profile, under Kevin Ohlandt.
I find it very discouraging that a school district that continually stresses a need for parental involvement can’t proactively advertise for something that is required by state law. Sending one letter out to parents (which I didn’t even get) for an entire school year is doing the bare minimum. The United States Supreme Court ruled on a special education case dictating schools must do more than the bare minimum with special education services for students with disabilities. While that case does not provide a case against Capital not advertising Parent Councils, it does show a consistent pattern in terms of special education. As a Capital parent, I received robo-calls throughout the year. Not one robo-call talked about Parent Councils. My son had many IEP meetings this year. As well, I was in constant contact with his Principal. Never once were the Parent Councils mentioned.
I hope to hear from many of you as soon as possible. For a school district that has 18.3% of their student population designated as Special Education (which means having an IEP) and probably higher due to 504 plans not being listed in that percentage, we need to band together now more than ever. The district, based on their 2017-2018 student unit count has 1,188 students on IEPs. 8 parents out of 1,188 attended the district’s Parent Council meetings this year. That is unacceptable and I would hazard a guess most of you did not even know this was an option.
Please share with as many parents of students with disabilities in the Capital School District as you can. For parents of these students in other school districts or charter schools, please make sure your school or district is following Delaware state law under Title 14 in this area. Thank you.