Last week, my colleague Will Carless reported that charter schools have been deserting San Diego Unified School District’s special education services because of concerns about poor services, autonomy and money. Our readers had plenty to say.

(How to catch up: Carless’ story and our look at a big recent shift in special education at the district.)

Here are five of your comments from the discussion:

Susan Fanno:

I would love it if we were given the choice of a voucher for $16,000 (or even 1/2 that) and could choose the school where we sent our special ed child. My son has 4 different aides teaching him every day, plus his class room teacher, plus his resource teacher, plus his speech therapist. Giving me the voucher would probably save the school district money.

Meri Jo Petrivelli:

The district doesn’t know why it’s costs are so much higher than the funding provided by the state? What’s wrong with that picture? If there is truly nobody who can figure out how the money is being spent, that seems like a problem. I know that school funding is complex-I sat on governance teams and site councils – but to claim you don’t know why your costs exceed your funding, when it should be a major part of your job to know that information, is incredibly disturbing to me. In what other areas does SDUSD not have a clear picture of how the money is being spent?

John de Beck, former San Diego Unified school board member:

If I now had a special needs child (I do have one who is a successfully employed adult) I would not choose any local charter for MY kids education! Of course that would keep the charters special education cost down, and add to the higher cost for SDUSD…. If someone tries to enroll a high cost special education child ( I mean one where the annual costs exceed $20,000 as you can find in SDUSD) just watch the charter folks and their low cost SPECIAL EDUCATION CONSORTIUM wiggle out of enrollment!

Allen Hemphill:

Can we have a discussion of whether severely disabled children should be in the K-12 system at all? Their problems are problems for all of society to address, but they have been placed into an academic system designed for already too many things: nutrition, transportation, recreation, sports, art, music, and socializing — each to the detriment of academics because there is a paucity of time and money.

Ian Yeates:

As a former District special education teacher at Gompers for five years, I find the comments made by Director Riveroll to be rather disingenuous to the District staff who were there. Yes, we were paid by the school district. However, we considered ourselves Gompers’ teachers even though we were not always treated as such. When asked to “volunteer” our Saturdays, we did that. When the job required us to work longer hours for no pay, we did that, too. As for not buying into the philosophy, we certainly did. During my tenure we arrested the turnover in special education and kept the stability. Several of us who left did so not because we were not willing to work hard or did not believe in the philosophy, but because we needed security for our families. We were offered positions to stay at Gompers, but the lack of job security was missing. My tenure at Gompers was very rewarding. They do good things there and the staff has always been dedicated, but how it is spun does not always reflect the truth.

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Dagny Salas is the web editor at You can contact her directly at or 619.550.5669.

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Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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