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San Diego Unified board members discuss special education at a 2017 board meeting. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Parents and teachers are protesting major shakeups in special education proposed by leaders of San Diego Unified School District.

The district has made two significant proposals. 

First, it is planning to significantly reduce the number of “separate setting” special education classrooms for 4-year-olds districtwide. That would mean students with moderate special needs would have less access to small classrooms, serving roughly a dozen students. Instead, they would more often end up in mainstream transitional kindergarten classrooms that serve roughly 24 students. 

Some parents say this will harm students who need the small setting to become prepared for the social aspects of school. But others argue that mainstreaming special education students into regular classrooms is better for most students. 

The second proposal would eliminate an administrative department that serves more than 300 students who attend private schools on the district’s dime. (The district pays for these students to attend private school, because parents have been able to prove that the district is not equipped to handle the student’s special needs.) Under the new proposal, each school site – which the non-public school student would normally attend – would be responsible for the child’s case management. 

Union leaders and some parents fear that is a responsibility schools aren’t prepared to handle. 

Today in the Coronavirus

It’s been a busy day in San Diego coronavirus news.

  • The New York Times visited homeless residents in San Diego to explore life on the streets under the threat of coronavirus.
  • Scripps Health said early Tuesday it was treating the county’s first case of COVID-19. The patient is being treated in isolation at the Scripps Green Hospital in Torrey Pines. (Union-Tribune).
  • Four conferences scheduled in March or April at the San Diego Convention Center have been canceled due to coronavirus concerns. One of those, held by the American Association for Cancer Research, is one of the Convention Center’s largest annual events. Officials for San Diego Comic-Con say they’re moving forward as scheduled with their July event. (KPBS)
  • UC San Diego has moved all of its courses to online-only for now. Cal State San Marcos is taking a wait-and-see approach for now. (Union-Tribune)
  • Part of UCSD’s changes included canceling or postponing events of more than 100 people, and doing the same for campus visits by groups of 15 or more people. Given that, we’ve decided to cancel our live podcast recording we had planned at UCSD for Wednesday evening. The guests we had lined up — Councilman Mark Kersey and political consultant Eva Posner — are still coming into the studio Wednesday night, so check for the show wherever you listen to your podcasts on Thursday.
  • SDSU President Adele de la Torre also announced that the university will move to online classes after spring break April 6
  • Pearl Jam also postponed its upcoming concert in San Diego. 
  • The district attorney warned Tuesday that it would prosecute any businesses that engaged in price gouging over the outbreak. (City News Service)

Council Approves 400 Low-Income Homes, With Bry Voting ‘No’

The San Diego City Council approved a proposal to build 400 homes reserved for low-income residents in Clairemont, on land owned by the San Diego County government, after nearby residents lobbied against the project for years, arguing it would change the character of their neighborhood and add too much traffic.

Councilwoman Barbara Bry, who is running for mayor, was the only member of the Council to oppose the project. She said she agreed with resident concerns that infrastructure improvements for the community would not be built quickly enough, KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen tweeted.

A representative for Chelsea Investment Corp., the nonprofit developer of the project, said building a project with 100 fewer homes for low-income residents, as community members had requested, would have made it less competitive for state funds the company is seeking to help pay for the project.

Election Update

Councilman Scott Sherman now leads Councilwoman Barbara Bry by just 836 votes to proceed to a November mayoral runoff against Assemblyman Todd Gloria. Bry gained 67 votes in Tuesday’s count, after Sherman led by 3,063 on election night. There remain 85,000 provisional votes still to be counted. If the remaining provisional ballots go to Bry at the same rate as the first batch of 5,000 did, she will surpass Sherman.

Measure C, the initiative to expand the Convention Center, stands at a 64.86 percent approval, shy of the 66.6 percent threshold it needs to avoid a drawn out legal challenge.

Escondido City Councilwoman Olga Diaz conceded that she will not make the runoff election in the race to take on incumbent County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar. Terra Lawson Remer’s No. 2 showing and lead over Diaz has remained steady. The rivalry between Diaz and Lawson Remer had divided Democrats and labor groups. Before the election, Democratic Party leaders had planned a unity breakfast, where the loser would endorse the candidate who advanced, but they canceled it abruptly after Election Day. 

Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio also conceded he will not make the runoff in the race to represent California’s 50th Congressional District. Former Rep. Darrell Issa’s second place spot and lead over DeMaio had also proven too big for DeMaio to close. After the blistering campaign fight against Issa, DeMaio pledged to help Issa win. He also said his top priority now was to oppose reforms to 1978’s Proposition 13, which capped property taxes in California. He also said he was going back on the radio. 

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts and Will Huntsberry, and edited by Sara Libby.

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