San Dieguito Union High School District has never quite figured out where to put its adult transition program.
The program helps 18- to 22-year-old students with disabilities transition from school life to adulthood, and all districts in the state are required to provide one. In San Dieguito, it’s moved from a leased space in a Carlsbad business park, to Mira Costa Community College to La Costa Canyon High School in the northeastern reaches of the district.
Its latest home was supposed to be at Solana Beach’s Earl Warren Middle School, but after the campus’ remodel left the district facing accusations of discrimination against students with disabilities, the program will be relocated once again.
Many parents of students with disabilities have had fairly good experiences in the district, but they don’t get the sense the district cares very much about the transition program. Some even say their kids reverse the gains they made before entering the program.
Those tensions finally came to a head this summer, when the district unveiled Earl Warren’s reconstruction. In June, parents of the transitioning students discovered that the middle school’s state-of-the-art facilities – large classrooms with three white boards, advanced technology and floor-to-ceiling windows to capture sunlight – wouldn’t be available to the adults in transition. They’d be in two portable classrooms with one window, one whiteboard and one bathroom each.
“If kids were being put in there because of their race or language skills or religions, there would be outrage,” said Lucile Lynch, a parent of a student the program.
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What school districts are failing to do everywhere is provide transition services, period. They are required to provide services, not programs. Inglewood has only one "program" and not enough room to fit all students so they need to provide more opportunities for district transfers to other districts that do have better options.
A program is NOT a service. Each student has an Individual Education Program (IEP) and districts create programs to deal with the cursory legal expectations without truly fulfilling the IEP requirement of being "individualized". Plugging students into programs that may or may not be what they feel is meaningful work dishonors the legal requirements and the student. Why have dreams or plans if the only options provided are "gardening", "culinary" or "car washing" (some of LAUSD's "options).
There should be more intensive and coordinated involvement with the Department of Developmental Services, Department of Rehabilitation and local business to focus on each individual and their preferences for work, creating apprentice opportunities and community investment and support. But districts continue to create "one-size-fits-all" "programs" for disabled students that are more about ticking off boxes in compliance paperwork for funding as opposed to really providing training to a student in the area of their interest.
Self-Determination info: http://www.dds.ca.gov/SDP/
I have no words. My son is on the autism spectrum and will likely be in high school beyond his 18th birthday. These programs are critical for kids like him. When he was younger, we lived in Virginia where he attended a school where the resources room was in a trailer, and another that had isolation rooms. That was a horrible chapter in his life, in our lives. These kinds of tactics are inhuman and have no place in our schools. Call it my preconceptions about California, but I would have thought schools here would have been more progressive, more compassionate towards special needs people. This is so shameful.
Very unfortunate indeed. But the transitional students need to prepare themselves for such discrimination by "normal" Americans - who fear and loath people who are different than themselves.
@John Porter I assure you that these kids have faced fear and loathing in large doses for all of their lives.