Parents of special-needs kids have frequently — and bitterly — complained that San Diego schools are failing their kids. A recent report supports many of their claims. But last night, the parents who filled an elementary school cafeteria for a community meeting shared a much more basic complaint: Handicapped parking spots are often blocked off by schools, in violation of basic disability protections.

Sara Muller Fraunces, a parent and special education chair who’s linked to the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, shared her gripe that two different elementary schools have chained off their handicapped spaces, sometimes during high-traffic times such as immediately after school. The anecdote was part of a larger conversation about many school principals’ ignorance of special education issues and needs, and Fraunces cited it as an extreme example.

“You just can’t do that,” she said. “It boggles my mind … To me, it speaks to the mentality … about people with disabilities.”

At least two more parents in a crowd of about two dozen piped up, citing similar experiences at other San Diego Unified schools. Roxie Jackson, director of the district’s special education programs, noted the schools named by parents, and said she’d work to address the issue.

Another parent said the parking-spot anecdote pointed to another need: Disability sensitivity training for principals.


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