Thursday, May 28, 2009 | I just finished your article on the Charter schools that run their own ship on Special Education. I am compelled to provide you with my experience. My son, who is a senior and just about to graduate now from High Tech High International, was diagnosed as a first grade student with ADHD, Inattentive type, and processing delays. I have worked with San Diego Unified since then to address his needs. When my son was accepted at HTHI his sophomore year I was truly amazed at the proactive response from the resource team. What a huge difference from San Diego Unified. I was called by telephone before the first day of school to, “see what we can do to make this a great educational experience for my child?” I fell out of my chair in delight that I would be contacted by the resource teacher rather than the other way around. Normally I would contact the teachers prior to the start of school and review the IEP and how we can work together to help my son. Since that time, HTHI has impressed me with their knowledge, their support and their determination to provide my son with the necessary skills to succeed in the future. To determine if the success at High Tech High is attributed to running their own ship, or the high caliber of their staff is a hard call.
My recommendation is to overhaul the entire special education department within San Diego Unified and actually make the staff more accountable to provide parents options and solutions for the disability their student may have. I can’t tell you how many times I attended the PARD courses offered through San Diego Unified and saw less than a handful of teachers present. The information I gained by listening to the experts provided me the confidence to stand up for my child in IEP meetings.
As you can tell, after trying to work with the elementary, middle and one year of high school of San Diego Unified, and now three years with HTHI, my frustration and disappointment was transformed by the resource teacher at HTHI into admiration.