California Educator

MAY 2012

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tion in connection with their child, to become informed about the law and their rights, and suggests they visit websites for the U.S. Department of Education as well as the California Department of Education. "If your classroom lacks essential support staff, let parents know that the law allows them to request ser- vices be provided to a child with a disability to help teachers work more effectively with that student," Begin said. "Refer them to the CTA website for resources." » Whistle-blowers have legal protections School employees who file reports concerning violations of Special Education laws are legally protected against retaliation for having done so, but they need to follow appropriate procedures to make sure their activi- ties will be protected. CTA members who are investigated or subjected to adverse actions related to filing such reports should immediately contact CTA staff to determine how best to respond and whether CTA Legal assistance may be needed. Last year Yolanda Rodriguez a letter of reprimand, which was later rescinded thanks to CTA. Philip Ramos filed a complaint with the California Department of Education about his district's new style of delivering special educa- tion services. Without even visit- ing Pomona, the state sided with his administration. "How can you conduct an investi- gation with one phone call to adminis- tration?" asks Ramos. "It's like calling the fox guarding the hen house and asking if the chickens are OK." CTA is working to change this. Meanwhile, a Supreme Court case (Susan Barker v. Riverside County Office of Education), the Education Code and CTA resources protect teachers who file complaints. The Barker case provided strength to whistle-blower laws. Ed Code Section 56046 protects educators who advo- cate for children with disabilities. Yolanda Rodriguez wants training and para support. taught 32 students in a third- and fourth-grade combination class. Five of her students were fully included special education students. A general education teacher, Rodriguez received training for students with disabili- ties in a two-hour presentation after Pomona Unified School District collapsed services and resource pro- grams, leaving no option but full inclusion at nine school sites. "I had no support," says Rodri- guez, Associated Pomona Teachers. "I had a classroom aide only three hours a week and had to yell to get that. I had no planning time. Finally, I received assistance from a special education teacher for one hour per day." During an IEP meeting, Rodriguez told the parents of one student that she did not feel that child's needs were being met. The principal wrote CTA RESOURCES HELP YOU ADVOCATE FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES Changes in special education programs statewide have resulted in increased class sizes, increased teacher workload, increased caseloads for special educators, lack of teacher involvement in the IEP planning process, unmet needs of special education students, and students with special needs being moved into general education classes without adequate training provided to staff. Because job descriptions and class size are subjects about which the employer is legally required to negotiate, such issues should be brought to the attention of the local chapter and its bargaining team to make sure California Labor Laws are being followed. "It is a real problem," says Barbara Schulman, chair of CTA's Special Education Committee. "Unfortunately, districts are making changes in special education to save money even when it is not in the best interests of students — and perhaps against the Education Code." These are some of the findings of an online survey conducted by State Council's Special Education Committee. The results of this survey are a new report available to all members called Special Education in California. To download the report, visit specialeducationincalifornia. May 2012 / 15

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