Special education staffing crisis

Here are some things I have learned.  I know many others know far more, but this is a start.   SFUSD is cutting services to students, when they should be cutting top administrators!

Back last spring, a very smart union activist within UESF explained how SFUSD had changed the “special academic minutes” requirement (?) by one minute, thus allowing them to reclassify a number of students to a lower level of services, and thus to reduce special education staff at school sites.

At the May 10 rally last spring many people came out and were very angry because the consolidations of special ed staff at many (most?) school sites had just been announced.   Based on what special ed staff have told me over the years, it is pretty much impossible to actually provide the services required by the law and that the students need!   So to reduce those services is outrageous!  With less support, the remaining teachers and paras just have to work even harder!   Not to mention that vulnerable students get less of the support that they need.

I attended the June 27, 2017 school board meeting for a different reason, and happened to hear the annual report by the Special Education Community Advisory Committee, and was shocked to hear that according to a request for information (RFI) they had filed with SFUSD, there was a projected loss of 34 SpED certificated positions and 139 SpED classified positions from last year to this year.  And then the district official said the cuts were necessary to pay for anticipated pay raises for teachers!  Here is the committee’s website, and the audio of the school board meeting (relevant part is 25:14 – 26:55).  I think SFUSD considers this to be part of its 3% “cuts to central office”, since special ed funding comes from the central office.   But actually the cuts are to the classroom!

Direct quote by SFUSD SpEd official from the audio,  “The CAC appreciates that our teachers deserve raises, massive raises…but we don’t have an unlimited supply of money and one of the ways the SPED department is doing its part is by changing RSP staffing guidelines and how students wth IEPs are being supported…. based on a public request for information from the District the CAC requested data for 2016-2017 anticipated staffing in SPED ..compared to 2017-18…there will be 39 fewer teacher FTEs , and 134 fewer paras….More and more of the work to support the special ed. kids is going to fall on teachers…big red flag,…they will need training, training, training…”

Later a committee member told me they did not know yet what the staffing levels for special education are for this year.  This person said she wanted special ed staff to report out(to the union?) about services they provide, using “Form 2” from Stetson, the firm that SFUSD hires to monitor SpED services, thereby proving on the district’s own terms that they are under-staffed.   She said they suspect SFUSD is cutting costs by doing this, which is illegal.

I just filed an RFI on SpED staffing levels for this year myself, on Nov 6, and they are required to reply within ten days.   I’ll post what they send.

Please contact the SpED CAC and UESF to report on staffing at your site, but also post somewhere else, if you feel comfortable doing so, so that the word gets out.

 

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