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State will likely cite Palo Alto Unified for too many students of color in special education

Original post made on Aug 28, 2019

Palo Alto Unified will likely be cited by the state this year for having a significantly disproportionate number of Latino and African American students in special education for the three years in a row.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 9:03 AM

Comments (93)

92 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside
on Aug 28, 2019 at 9:48 am

Does anybody honestly believe that this is based on racism? Sounds like absurd nonsense to me!


36 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2019 at 10:55 am

This is not a shock at all, but even so, the data is appalling and this is nothing other than institutionalized racism. Fixing this needs to be a top priority for the district.

Relatedly, I would specifically like to see the district implement centralized, heightened, district-office level review of the students teachers are proposing to hold back. Anecdotally, my observation is that students of color in this district are perhaps held back at higher rates and that those decisions are sometimes made off a single teacher's recommendation, and are sometimes made quite early (eg after kindergarten, which seems potentially far too early). And my general understanding (though I am not an educator) is that holding children back in certain situations can have significant long-term consequences.


17 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 28, 2019 at 11:38 am

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Create better ways to measure their progress and better programs so they won't be stuck and labeled in them. Develop a program that has nothing to do with race or ethnicity and will move them out of that stigmatized category. Most of the kids can do it. They just need support from parents, teachers, and school administrators.


55 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 28, 2019 at 11:43 am

@ Palo Alto Parent-
You refer 3 times to "holding back" students. Why? This is about special ed, not failure to promote to the next grade.

Depending on where or how the students were previously taught, they may well need the extra attention of Special Ed classes. It has nothing to do with ethnicity but a great deal to do with the students' ability to learn in the format used in regular classes & keep up with the work.

Students who cannot perform at grade level or who have significant learning disabilities or serious ADHD issues need the extra attention and alternate teaching methods used in Special Ed classes. I know of a couple of PA students whose learning problems track back to having been born to drug-addicted mothers. Failing to give those children the benefits of Special Ed in their areas of need would be irresponsible. Kids whose behavior disrupts & impairs the progress of mainstream students also benefit from Special Ed.

Without Special Ed, a lot of these kids might be "held back." Why do you begrudge the extra help some kids so clearly need? It has nothing to do with ethnicity as long as all other criteria are equal.


12 people like this
Posted by Just a thought
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2019 at 12:05 pm

It seems what would make sense is to re-frame it (and schedule it) as additional after school tutoring or summer school than something where the students are being taken out of classes that are in session which would put them even farther behind. Something like the following program from the Silicon Valley Education Foundation.

Elevate Math Report (Effectiveness of Summer Math Program)
Web Link


33 people like this
Posted by Yuri
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2019 at 12:51 pm

The "Promise" is nothing more than PR propaganda. Read it as such.


36 people like this
Posted by cvvhrn
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2019 at 1:05 pm

cvvhrn is a registered user.

Sheesh yet another mess. I for one am having disaster fatigue and its gotten to the point where the collective outrage will only last as long as the next mistake crops up.

There seems to be zero accountability

There is a revolving door at the upper echelon. They come, collect big $$$, blame the previous administration (which is justified in many cases), and move on.

The culture of zero accountability bleeds down as we saw with the former PALY principal.

We have two more years of this *%$t show and we are done.

We need to GUT the entire administration from the top on down, including the school board etc, and start fresh WITH NEW PEOPLE. Not people retreded from somewhere else


42 people like this
Posted by Sally-Ann Rudd
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 28, 2019 at 2:06 pm

Sally-Ann Rudd is a registered user.

Since white parents are falling over themselves to get special ed services for their kids, often denied, no this is not about racism. There's also no stigma attached to special ed. They are not taken out of classes; at Middle and High school they lose an elective (one of two electives) which is replaced by a class with a significantly higher teacher-student ratio so that they can work on homework or other subjects with adult help. Students of color have lower levels of achievement across the board in PAUSD, otherwise a high-performing district, and its that inequality that should be addressed, and special ed programs are part of that solution.


37 people like this
Posted by Personal experience
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 28, 2019 at 3:01 pm

This is about racism and social classism.

There is a stigma attached to special ed. Anyone that says anything else is in denial.

They are taken out of classes; algebra becomes three survey math courses.

At middle and high school, they lose 50% of their electives, which are replaced by a useless 'warehouse' class. They are supposed to work on homework with an adult that invariably can't answer a question about basic math.

Then everyone expects them to get a job at Starbucks (no offense).


51 people like this
Posted by Cover-up Culture
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 28, 2019 at 3:18 pm

This is about PAUSD staff "dumping" minorities into special ed rather than deal w their deficits in learning, even though they have no learning disability. Thanks PAUSD!


7 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 28, 2019 at 3:29 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

A recent article in the WSJ said that children born in the September/October time period have more problems because the school stipulates a specific date that they have to be born in to enter school. That means that there is a year of growth variance as they start school. Many are held back a year so they have matured a bit more and then are the older in the group vs the youngest. My son had that problem and should have been held back one year. That one year is a big one for growth.

Also the school type - the then Ohlone on Charleston was the "open school" which had less structure. He had to be moved to a school that had more structure. Another child was moved to a strict 3-R school - very structured which at the time was Hoover. I think girls did better in the open school format.
This was way back then. Suggest that each school define their "teaching philosophy" so that kids can be put in a school which suits them better. And check the birthday -- oldest in group or youngest in group. That is a big emotional growth period.


15 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 28, 2019 at 3:55 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

Complicated issue.

Everyone wants to see better outcomes for students of color. So, the district does one of the things that it can do and classifies some of these students as being "disabled". At least it has a chance of getting them more educational services.

Then, the district is accused of overclassifying these students as being disabled.

I am sure there are people in the district who feel that they were doing the best that they could do.


4 people like this
Posted by Just a Thought
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2019 at 4:49 pm

Here is some info from the Silicon Valley Education Foundation website: "Research and experience show that extended learning programs that make a difference in student success generally align student needs, school/district realities, and community assets and issues. A myriad of different models have been implemented throughout the United States..." Their article delves a bit deeper into those approaches:
Web Link

No affiliation with the SVEF (although looking into it at the moment) - some upcoming events for SVEF:
Web Link


21 people like this
Posted by Anony Mouse
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2019 at 8:33 pm

Anony Mouse is a registered user.

It's a fantasy to presume that the bureaucratic structural racism of PAUSD (and plenty of other districts) will reform itself from the inside and magically stamp out the structures of oppression. Even a cursory reading of the NYT's 1619 project shows us that most of our institutions are founded with racism at their core. It's not a bug, it's a feature. Even a cursory look at the shameful, condescending treatment of VTP families shows how we roll. Announce new policy in the Spring, let it cool off over the summer, declare victory and move on. VTP families are supposed to lump it and be happy with the scraps we "give" them. If anyone did even a cursory look into the "holding back" of students in elementary would probably see an easily identifiable pattern of race. It's not a bug, it's a feature. This Special Ed. problem has been brewing for at least 10 years. That spans 3 supes. No change in the practices of the district. It's not a bug, it's a feature. The powerful have decided that this is not a big deal. I know the district is full of well intentioned people trying their best to help kids. Well intentioned, racist outcomes are still racist.

Also, surprised this has appeared yet in comments, but the dude who always writes "but "they" don't care about education the way WE do" can and should be shouted down in no uncertain terms. Wait for it...


23 people like this
Posted by Cover-up Culture
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 28, 2019 at 10:46 pm

Btw, what about all those PAUSD special education staff departing so recently and so much recent turnover? What about that connection? And how does Yolanda Conaway escape scrutiny for her role? And what about the shameful Pausd record of graduating less than 25% of special education students meeting a-g requirements? Hmmm....and according to dreamcatchers, only 40% of low income PAUSD are at grade level. What up PAUSD? Great job!


15 people like this
Posted by Specifically please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 28, 2019 at 11:30 pm

"bureaucratic structural racism" - what does that mean? Can you link that to a specific policy or practice? Disproportionate assignment to special ed might be, but I doubt it - the assignment to special ed is *because* the students are failing, not the cause of it.

There might be structural racism or the legacy of it in other aspects of society - housing patterns, school funding, healthcare availability, family structure, etc. But we are talking about within PAUSD itself - what specifically is the "structural racism"?


22 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2019 at 6:45 am

I will continue the trend of a "this is really about" comment. That alone is funny, us flattening it, but we need to consider lots of explanations, so I'm sticking with it!

This is really about wealthier families leaving PAUSD when their children present unique needs. The district should gather that data, prove that there is significantly less disproportionality in identification than would appear because of retention patterns, and then then call it a day. I know of six sped kids who have left the district personally, and I'm not at all well connected.

Now, why are families of means with sped kids fleeing? That's the rug we need to look under. It points to the profoundly mediocre value-add of PAUSD in terms of differential educational outcomes over what you would otherwise expect from its student population, special needs or otherwise.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 29, 2019 at 8:48 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

My grand niece just graduated college with a special needs education degree. My sister-in-law went back and got a masters in special needs education. This is a specialty education degree which possibly the city is not willing to recognize? Or allocate space and budget for what is required in this teaching field. So question to PAUSD is: 1. Is the need for a specific teaching credential recognized in the hiring process? 2. Is the space allocated for special needs children?

Question to PAUSD is getting a specific stated plan within their overall management plan for special needs called out in their policies? Since this is a recognized specialty degree taught within the college system then it needs to be officially recognized within the school system and called out within the overall management plan with a budget.

Next is checking the credentials of the people we vote on for politically designated positions - what kind of degrees do they have? Or is this a stepping stone to some other political agenda for a future. Many political people start their careers with involvement in local politics to use as a resume for a future political position outside the school system.

I will note that I was waiting for a signal at Town and Country and a number of special needs children in wheel chairs were being helped with attendants. So I can see that there is some type program that is being actively followed.


26 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 29, 2019 at 9:20 am

Samuel L. is a registered user.

As per their usual script, PAUSD never voluntarily addresses issues. They see how long they can get away with it and only take action when they are forced to by an outside agency and it becomes public.

Is this really a surprise? And then Austin attempts to minimize it by saying that everyone does it. If there's not a problem with it, then why not bring it up to the board?

Wait, so PAUSD isn't transparent with the public? They're more than happy to publicy pat themselves on the back. Would be nice if they held themselves accountable when they screw up.


20 people like this
Posted by Gunngrad
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2019 at 9:43 am

@Sally, you make a very good point. Sadly, I suspect if we looked at the diagnosis data and not just enrollment, we'd still find a pattern of racism.

Additionally, it's inherently racist that the sped programs are so inadequate that the wealthy (primarily white, one can assume) kids are pulled out and the disadvantaged kids left at an even further disadvantage in the PAUSD program.


13 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2019 at 11:09 am

@Gunngrad -- I half agree with you. I guess the distinction is whether the "system" that we're calling racist is the broader social/historical situation in which we find ourselves, including housing, education, employment, policing, and so on... or PAUSD, right now, specifically.

I'm 100% with you on the latter, but I really don't see it on the former. In general, I don't think disparity of outcomes ever gives a clear or simple proof of local wrong-doing. Neither should that "lack of proof" provide easy absolution, of course. I am so frustrated with PAUSD on so many fronts, yet I don't think the 'institutionally racist' epitaph is warranted. You of course can disagree.

And the difference is not just academic and non-practical. Different diagnoses on where and how racism lives will naturally inform where and how we try to intervene. So, as we go forward debating this with our loved-ones and community (this is not, imho, a super useful forum to do so), I promise to be open-minded, respectful, and try not to make enemies out of those folks with whom I'm in 95% agreement. Not that you're doing so... it's just so saddening when it comes to that again and again...

Thanks and smiles.


6 people like this
Posted by PAUSD parent
a resident of Southgate
on Aug 30, 2019 at 11:48 am

This is absurd. PAUSD is damned if they do and damned if they don't. Make an effort to reach more students of color that need SPED services and critics have a field day. I have a student of color that was in the PAUSD SPED program. They were there because they needed services. They did not 'get better' and graduate out of SPED. That is not the way most disabilities work. Of course students are in SPED more than 3 years because many continue to need services


19 people like this
Posted by SamIsI
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 30, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Let us legislate poorer performance away. We mandate equal outcomes regardless of culture, genes or economics. Fix it all PAUSD!!

Personally, I bred a bunch of kids with ADHD. Sorry Pausd! They weren't "colored" but were Jewish. They all had extra resources, focus on success, IEP, therapists paid for by your taxes. You name it, we used it. I never had a problem with Pausd -- the resources were great, the people mostly very caring and helpful.

On the other hand, the outcomes ... for the oldest, 3.9 GPA at a rather hard University, found a well paying job within a few weeks of graduation. The other one, now a solid performer at a top technical engineering school. Another, still gulping resources, but GPA rising to 3.8. Well, ADHD is a problem that can be corrected for ... or else I wouldn't have been able to afford Palo Alto.


12 people like this
Posted by Michael O.
a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 30, 2019 at 3:56 pm

What this likely means is that PAUSD is not identifying enough white and Asian students for special ed, not that they are identifying too many children of color, and they are not providing enough services overall. Not a surprise given that parents of means will buy extra help for their children outside of the classroom. In other districts there is no shame in special ed. There is a lot of stigma amongst parents in this community about it, even as special ed services increases the chances of academic success for certain students. Yes, we have personal experience with special ed in PAUSD, so please don't troll me.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 31, 2019 at 11:14 am

The real "racism" going on here is that we are referring to a group of individuals under this meaninglesds umbrella term "people of color" so we are linguistically segregating whites from everyone else. Why can't we take one individual at a time without endlessly fretting over race and skin color?
It's just more of the identity politics groupthink that plagues CA, but thankfully not the USA as a whole.
What is it with limousine liberals and their obsessive need to virtue signal?
Could it be the phenomenon known as moral licensing?


18 people like this
Posted by Pa
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2019 at 11:48 am

@Sally
Thank you for making your points.
As someone who has been destroyed by the District’s incapability and pettiness, it’s not just mediocre, it’s downright criminal. And no one seems to care enough all the way up the chain from district to County to State. There is no enforceability of the laws, no accountability, and definitely no integrity.

And as someone who has tried to get support by asking for the new whatever’s in the promise, no one in the school has been able to name anything that is accessible. In fact they don’t know anything about it.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 31, 2019 at 1:47 pm

@Pa, I don't know if the Promise will end up being important or not. But it was approved by the Board at their June 18 meeting, the last one of the school year and well after school ended. So for teachers and principals, it has been in place since school started about 2 weeks ago, and and it probably isn't the first thing on anyone's to-do list. I think you'll have to give it some time (a year?) before judging whether it has any impact on rank and file teachers.


21 people like this
Posted by Old News
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 31, 2019 at 2:50 pm

Old News is a registered user.

What is new? PAUSD was in the same situation not too long ago If my memory serves me right in 2012 when Skelly was the super. Racism never stops. I worked there and remember a teacher saying, this student (caucasian from rich family) is not really learning, but I could never suggest his mother an evaluation because she is professional and I could get into trouble, but she never thought twice about recommending a Hispanic or African American. It is quick way of getting these students out of their classroom if they do not learn fast enough. Another Special Education Teacher from PAUSD once told me "I do not understand why this parent gets so upset that her child qualifies for Special Ed. it is really like a present because now she is going to be in a small class with a lot of attention. I told her "imagine that you are pregnant, and you are having a baby shower and one of those presents say "This voucher qualifies your brand new baby for special education? These are real stories. I could go on and on. Also one brand new student to USA at PAUSD was send back to Kinder because she did not understood, later, I advocated for this student, and she was moved in about a month to First Grade where she was supposed to be according to her age and documents from her school in Mexico. This student is now a graduated from Stanford. No one could recognized that she was gifted. PAUSd only recognized as gifted Caucasian, French and Asian students, the minorities are only qualified for special ed. Sad but true.
I do not think that PAUSD will change. I lost hope.


20 people like this
Posted by Forced Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2019 at 1:06 am

@Old News
My profoundly gifted high schooler with LDs was not assessed for either giftedness or the LDs in PAUSD. We were forced out, by vicious retaliatory behavior including toward our student by district adults. We have struggled to provide an education with far less resources while paying more and more to educate other people’s children instead. I know and know of numerous other families who had to leave for similar reasons - all white or Asian, including having to move away or homeschool.

Based on what I have witnessed, I think it’s far more likely that the district has been more effective at forcing out white families who can’t afford lawyers than families of students of color; in the overly legalistic district administrations, it’s highly likely that students of color were seen as more likely to win if someone sued or went to the OCR, and thus were more likely to be identified and provided services. White students, especially gifted 2e students whose families could not afford to battle the district with lawyers, were the easiest to libel/torment/gaslight/stress and push out.

I find it ominous and threatening that the district is planning to work harder to push out students of color to bring the numbers down rather than following the law to bring up the numbers among white and Asian students who need it. Given the real damage adults in PAUSD have done to families and students, without any accountability for it, I think it’s just downright chilling to think that the situation calls for reducing the number of students of color. This is based on an utterly wrongheaded assumption that the district is properly identifying and/or serving the white/Asian students, when that’s really only been the case for those who can afford expensive lawyers.


6 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 1, 2019 at 7:25 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

Can't win... The kids are in these programs to get them extra help. If they don't get the assistance, and are forced back into the general population, we are whining about performance gaps and crucifying PAUSD for underserving them.


19 people like this
Posted by Forced Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2019 at 10:35 am

@john_alderman,
The district has a legal and moral duty to proactively identify and help students with learning and other disabilities. This turns out to be the cheapest and best way to education students.

The only facts we know for sure here are that
1) The district has an overrepresentation of students of color in special ed
2) The district has a history of blatantly and seriously violating the civil rights of students with special needs

There is no analysis here of why students of color are overrepresented. It's absolutely the wrong thing -- we are headed for another big mess (danger! danger!) -- to assume that the answer is to just proactively reduce the number of students of color in special ed.

More likely the answer is for the state (not the district) to look at the problem of special needs students leaving because they couldn't get needs met, or because they were pushed out. I suspect that's where the disproportionality comes: we know how badly our district has handled special needs, especially the Childfind provision of the IDEA. It's more likely that white and Asian families disproportionately left rather than students of color (especially latino/hispanic students).

That should be investigated for any number of reasons, but here to prevent the district of making the monumental mistake of proactively avoiding its duty to students of color under the IDEA by doubling down on avoiding extending special ed services to students of color. The answer should instead be that the district comes to terms with this other area of illegal and immoral behavior toward students, makes amends, and moves forward serving ALL special needs students who need it.


10 people like this
Posted by Angry Black Man @ 71
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 1, 2019 at 3:03 pm

>> Does anybody honestly believe that this is based on racism?

>> This is about racism and social classism.

^^^ When I went to the old Mayfield Elementary School on ECR during the 1950s, I had to take speech therapy classes once a week.

The purpose of the program was to instill, teach & encourage black children to enunciate their speech & words more like white people with less slurring & drawl.

Palo Alto was a racist town from way long ago...just subtle about it.

Like the PAUSD was doing us a favor? Bro?


9 people like this
Posted by Native Tongue
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 1, 2019 at 7:40 pm

Being a progressive school district maybe the PAUSD wanted African-American children to speak in a more polished tongue...and to sound more intelligent?

Ironically, Ebonics became a sub-language of its own later down the road.


14 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Sep 2, 2019 at 10:55 am

Don Austin --- great denial and minimization!
Austin was not surprised by the finding, which he described as "exceedingly common" in districts across the state. The county Office of Education's SELPA told Palo Alto Unified that there are 12 school districts on the way to be cited as significantly disproportionate this year.

There are 977 school districts in California; 31 school districts in Santa Clara County.

What about the back story - that minority students arrive at PAUSD with learning deficits, but not actual learning disabilities, and when PAUSD fails to reduce those deficits, it 'dumps' these students into special education, where their lack of academic performance and low test results won't reflect poorly on PAUSD's numbers as the students are now counted as learning 'disabled,' even though they are not? Where's the reporting on that?


15 people like this
Posted by Get Smart
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2019 at 2:43 pm

@ Independent,
I would believe that, too. Our district tries really hard to avoid having to help 2e students, applying an illegal and immoral standard that if a student isn't in academic trouble, they don't need services for things like dyslexia or dysgraphia. I'm guessing more than half the teachers in this district don't even know what dysgraphia is and probably torment the poor kids whose handwriting isn't up to snuff as not trying hard enough.


4 people like this
Posted by Special Ed Parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 2, 2019 at 3:24 pm

To clarify, special education students take the CAASPP (state tests) and are included in district and school reporting. Also, since PAUSD largely ended in-school segregation of almost all special education students about 10 years ago (no more "special day classes"), special ed students almost all spend the majority of their day in general ed classrooms.

So the only "benefit" for the district from assigning students to special education (which both costs more and creates significant regulatory obligations) is if they learn more - which is kind of the point.

BTW, statewide, 68% of special education students are boys. Not sure about PAUSD. Is that a major civil rights issue - clear evidence of the "war against boys"?


21 people like this
Posted by Don't do anything extra
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 2, 2019 at 6:02 pm

Wow, that's so great @Special Ed Parent that PAUSD is so generously placing these minority students in special ed, so they can get additional resources that they need, while it fights tooth and nail with other parents to prevent their kids getting a diagnosis and additional services.

The question then is, why is it that minorities are designated as special education in PAUSD so disproportionately? Why would 25% of African American students in PAUSD be designated special education when whites clock in at 8% and Asians 4%? Just the luck of the draw? 25% of the African American students at PAUSD just happen to be special education, when overall special ed/disabled students are less than 10% of total students at PAUSD. What a mystery!

And further, why is it that PAUSD then educates them so poorly, even those who are getting additional services due to special ed designation? According to Dreamcatchers, 'Fewer than 40% of low-income Palo Alto students are at grade level, compared with 90% of their more privileged peers.' Can't we safely assume that many of these low-income students Dreamcatchers references are mostly minorities?

So 60% of low-income, probably minority students at PAUSD aren't performing at grade level, with or without additional special ed services. Why? Something to do with PAUSD?


11 people like this
Posted by Back Then
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 2, 2019 at 6:06 pm

>>> The purpose of the program was to instill, teach & encourage black children to enunciate their speech & words more like white people with less slurring & drawl.

>>> ...the PAUSD wanted African-American children to speak in a more polished tongue...and to sound more intelligent?

>>> Palo Alto was a racist town from way long ago...just subtle about it.

Being a college community, Palo Alto wanted its people of color to speak more eloquently than those from the impoverished South or inner cities. It was a reflection of the town itself.

No different than in the pre-Civil War South where black slaves working as domestics were expected to enunciate & speak more clearly than the atypical field hands.

So yes...Palo Alto was somewhat focused on white priorities back in the day.


16 people like this
Posted by Don't do anything extra
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 2, 2019 at 6:11 pm

@Sally, families of means with kids with issues are leaving PAUSD because of the horror stories they have heard. And they want their kids to get an education.


4 people like this
Posted by Special Ed Parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 2, 2019 at 9:03 pm

I'm not sure why PAUSD has disproportional special ed assignment, by ethnicity, income-level, or gender. But it's not to make their numbers somehow look better, because it doesn't.

It turns out PAUSD is not good at educating low-income students of any ethnicity. In ELA, white and Latino low-income students score about the same as the county average (not good given how much more $$ PAUSD has); for high-income students, both out-perform their respective county averages.





18 people like this
Posted by Don't do anything extra
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 2, 2019 at 9:32 pm

I see, this is why they want to over - designate folks who are behind into special ed - so they don't have to be responsible for catching them up and for them finishing the complete curriculum in each class each year for graduation. They can then have them complete a 'modified' curriculum as a special ed student, meaning not the whole, complete curriculum, but a truncated one. The curriculum gets more challenging as we get going on math in middle school, for example, especially if the basics haven't been grasped. And by high school even more so. So, with a graduation requirement of Algebra 2, etc, and a board policy that everyone is supposed to meet a-g requirements, which requires finishing all curriculum in each class each year, this is a way to get out of that --- and not have to carry these students through - as Algebra 2 is pretty tough if you've never really grasped Algebra 1, and so forth --- so just designate students who have deficits, but not learning disabilities, as special ed, when they're not, so you don't have to deal with all of that. 'Modified' curriculum. Don't really 'graduate,' per se. Yep. And PAUSD doesn't have to face questions about it. Except just get cited by the state for disproportionality in special ed. But then have the PAUSD Superintendent minimize it and discount it as though it happens to every other district and it should just be ignored. In a district with all these extra resources from all the property taxes --- but which get gobbled up by the salaries and benefits of staff, rather than being devoted to helping these kids. Uh huh. Yep. That's it.


18 people like this
Posted by Don't do anything extra
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 2, 2019 at 11:33 pm

So, if PAUSD does this, classify low income minority students as special ed when they're not, it gets a free pass, since it need not explain why it didn't actually educate these kids to be proficient or competent in the subjects offered. And why it didn't help them catch up in all the years they were in PAUSD. And help them grasp the subject matter. After all, special education students can't be expected to measure up...and apparently in PAUSD low income minority kids neither, as 60% aren't at grade level, according to Dreamcatcher's fundraising pitch. Win win for Pausd, lose lose for those kids.


18 people like this
Posted by What It All Means
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 3, 2019 at 12:02 am

What It All Means is a registered user.

To clarify what this all means:

A State of California audit found PAUSD to have a dis-proportionally high number of minorities in Special Education.

Why does this matter?

Because once students are placed in Special Education:
- The school district can state these minority students cannot be taught because they are disabled.
-The school district does not have to ensure the students graduate with a high school diploma.
-The school district can grant the students a "Modified Diploma" or a "Certificate of Completion" that does not meet the same standards as other students. It will brand the student as incapable for the rest of his/her life.

Broad conclusions that disabled students cannot learn are absurd. While it is true for some (there is child in my family with severe brain damage from birth who cannot retain memory), it is not true for most.

Most disabilities have zero to do with intelligence. Autism has nothing to do with intelligence. Students with learning disabilities are often very bright, even gifted. They just don't learn the same way every one else does. We know how to identify this, and we know how to teach to it. Palo Alto spent millions on Special Education in the past 10 years, but has failed to teach students with disabilities. We can do this because it is culturally acceptable to let disabled students fail.

Placing minority children in Special Education when they do not need to be there is blatantly racist.

It is also evil.


13 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 3, 2019 at 9:27 am

Treating any child like this, regardless of color, is wrong.


15 people like this
Posted by Don't do anything extra
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 3, 2019 at 9:58 am

What is all means is also that PAUSD can escape scrutiny for not educating these children, for not bringing them to proficiency, and can hide it, cover it up, and pretend like they are offering extra services. If those extra services were so great and so freely offered, why would special ed parents constantly be complaining of a lack of resources and commitment to special education?


2 people like this
Posted by Special Ed Parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 3, 2019 at 11:05 am

@Don't do anything extra, you have your perspective. But you and others should realize that most special education parents are positive about their PAUSD experience.

The district did an extensive survey review in 2018 - here's the presentation of the results: Web Link. There are several surveys reported in there, but in particular there is one of 394 PAUSD parents taken at IEP meetings (a good idea, since it tends to reduce self-selection). In terms of "overall satisfaction with special education services throughout time at PAUSD," 71% rated it high and 20% moderate - so 91% were at least reasonably satisfied.

There's obviously room for improvement (and of course some of the most dissatisfied leave the district, so aren't there to be surveyed), but most families are positive about PAUSD's special education services. The idea that a large group of career special educators "hide, cover up, and pretend like they are offering extra services" seems just wrong to me, and is well outside our family's experience.


19 people like this
Posted by Forced Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2019 at 1:02 pm

@Special Ed Parent,
Until the district takes a look at the shameful period of proactively stressing and pushing out many families with special needs students they didn't want to serve (or didn't like/weren't well-connected/on the board), the survey you bring up is meaningless.

Let's take a survey of whether we have racial problems in our neighborhood after years of burning crosses on the lawns of people of color and pushing them out! Let's survey the standardized test scores of our students after we spend years forcing out (rather than helping) the low scorers! Sorry, but you just don't get to say everything is hunky dory now on the backs of those who were treated so shamefully and unlawfully.

Tell me more about this survey taken during IEP meetings. How could the parents be sure the results weren't absolutely confidential? How can we even know the questions portrayed now are what the parents thought they were answering? (Speaking personally of having been lied to and schemed against in special ed meetings and lied to specifically about things that were presented for signatures.) And most of all, until we know just how many families were forced out, how, what happened to them and why, the results of a survey like this that doesn't include them at all is not only meaningless, it is cynical window dressing by people who want to cover their @$$es and pretend (again) that nothing illegal or immoral was done to CHILDREN by their employees, instead of for once voluntarily going after the truth and making things right by those who were wronged, CHILDREN who were wronged.

And how exactly do these numbers even help any children who have been treated badly and unlawfully? Saying that 91% of crimes didn't result in a murder is not the same as saying things are safe, and means nothing at all when it comes to how well the town is handling its high rate of murders. I

'd like to see a breakdown related to whether the children served were well-connected, had lawyers, had a very inexpensive accommodation, etc. And then I'd like to see a survey of all the people who left or stopped bothering to even pursue IEP meetings because it wasn't worth the expense and time only to have the accommodations NOT honored. Do you have any sense of how many people that is? Of course not.


5 people like this
Posted by Special Ed Parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 3, 2019 at 2:30 pm

@Forced Out, you are right, of course, we all get to choose who and what we believe. We can believe stories posted on anonymous message boards; we can believe published surveys by professional district research staff. Each could be completely true or completely fabricated - there's no way to be certain. That uncertainty is what allows conspiracy theorists in all aspects of life to thrive.

We won't settle that issue here. I just want to provide the counter-balance of the info the district provided. It could be that things are objectively terrible - or it could be that 91% think that services are pretty good. We'll each have to reach our own conclusions.


17 people like this
Posted by Forced Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2019 at 10:47 pm

@Special Ed Parent,
You are digging in on a dangerous and false perspective, which is to more than imply that because someone has a good experience, as reported in in the presence of people who could retaliate if the survey isn't entirely confidential, that the experiences of those who have had problems can be dismissed or ignored. If our district does something illegal to deny the fair and appropriate education to even one child, we have a problem. I personally know and know of dozens. Your experience and your survey have no bearing on that. Your point would seem very different if our district wasn't also still engaged in CYA with no signs of coming to terms with the wrongs. The administrators who did personally retaliatory, lying, horrible, traumatizing things to families and children with special needs were never held to account and allowed to just move on to other districts.

You even admit that the survey you are using doesn't include those who were forced to leave the district, those who were so badly wronged they left, those whose children were languishing so they left, etc etc etc etc

The district does a survey of a group AFTER spending years and years pushing out the most vulnerable, no matter what it says, it has no bearing on the wrongs so long as this district does nothing to shed light on them, understand them, and do right by those who have been wronged.

I believe my actual experience and that of the honest and earnest families and children who have been similarly hurt. If you care so much about data, perhaps you will join me in asking the district to take some actual data on the people you admit yourself were not included in the survey that just has no bearing on the problems in this discussion.

You make me regret not letting the OCR pursue this.


24 people like this
Posted by Forced Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2019 at 6:12 am

According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, "One in five children in the U.S. have learning and attention issues such as dyslexia and ADHD" - that's 20%.
Web Link

According to the above numbers, only about 10% of students of color are identified with and provided services for learning disabilities in our district, half the expected percentage. Since the above article says that students of color are identified disproportionately, this means the rate of white and Asian students identified with learning disabilities and provided needed services to meet their potential is in the single digits and a small fraction of what would be expected.

Does no one find this alarming? The numbers say that our students are being dramatically underserved by special education, especially white/Asian families, but also students of color.

Again, it's chilling given those numbers and our district's history, that the response to the racial disproportionality is a knee-jerk eye to further reducing services for students of color rather than finally doing their duty by the rest of students.

This fits with the experiences of many families with 2e children -- gifted children who also have specific learning disabilities -- who are even talking about starting a separate school because of how badly served their children are in this district. Given the demographics here, 2e children are probably a very high portion of students with learning disabilities who are not being served, especially since our district historically has not served students who may need the help to meet their potential but are not failing relative to their peers. We don't have a GATE program, and we certainly have no understanding of 2e issues here. This issue has become so acute in this district, it's only a matter of time before someone files a long-overdue suit under civil rights laws.

The disproportionality is all also in stark contrast to a national trend in which students in wealthy schools are receiving sometimes up to 7 times more learning disability designations, far more than poor schools, along with the accommodations that help the students learn and perform better, because they can afford the testing. What are the demographics of the students who were forced out versus those who stayed and got the services? It's usually the most wealthy who can afford lawyers who our district serves -- all the more reason to understand why the number of white/Asian students our district provides special education services to is so far below what one would expect.

I wonder what we would see if we looked at the percentage of PTA leadership and board members, and families who could afford expensive lawyers, whose students requested and received special needs services versus the rest of the school population? (Rhetorical question)


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 4, 2019 at 7:56 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

This is amazing. We have a school site at CUB which if managed correctly can be allocated to Special Ed students as well as students in the direct location who are younger and would have trouble crossing over Alma and ECR to get to Gunn. So the lease on that property is coming up at the end of the year. Time to focus on how PAUSD/City is addressing these issues which require more room space and equipment / teachers to get the students educated and moving outward to adult life. If the need is not being addressed at the other schools for lack of space and Special Ed teachers then you have a solution and it is sitting right there - exclusive of funding of course. So our local legislators who are busy figuring out how to put people on the CC campus parking lots can then turn their attention to financing a bigger problem and making the space and equipment available at CUB so that PAUSD can get on with the job of educating our students. We have the place so get on with it.


7 people like this
Posted by Compton Calling
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2019 at 9:09 am

>>> The purpose of the program was to instill, teach & encourage black children to enunciate their speech & words more like white people with less slurring & drawl.

>>> ...the PAUSD wanted African-American children to speak in a more polished tongue...and to sound more intelligent?

>>> Being a college community, Palo Alto wanted its people of color to speak more eloquently than those from the impoverished South or inner cities. It was a reflection of the town itself.

^^^ My cousin (British-African) grew up in London & was raised to speak the Queen's English.

He later moved to Compton (near USC) & his perfect English dialect did not go very well with 'the boyz in the hood'. He was bullied for speaking like Prince Charles & learned the hard way.

If we are going to have speech therapy/special education in the USA, it might as well include the ENTIRE south/southeastern United States including residents of Hawaii as few there speak very well & without telltale accents or slang.

As a matter of fact, some of these people sound downright ignorant...though they may not be.


18 people like this
Posted by Forced Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2019 at 11:17 am

@Resident-1
With all due respect, where do you get the idea that all special Ed is the same and students should be segregated? A 2e school as an option is one thing, because if the district’s failure to support gifted or 2e students, but segregating all special Ed students is a weird and uninformed suggestion.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 4, 2019 at 1:22 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Excuse me - are you busy putting words in other people's mouths? The two schools we have are not equipped well enough to support all colors who are special ed. We can put all of them over at CUB with more equipment and more focused special Ed teachers.
My niece is a special Ed teacher, as is my sister-in-law who has a masters in that topic. The first problem here is the assumption of race. Special Ed hits everyone. Someone started this site with an agenda. Special Ed has a different agenda. Deal with reality - not someone's agenda.


21 people like this
Posted by Forced Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2019 at 1:58 pm

@Resident-1
Sorry, but what you are suggesting is just uninformed. The laws require the district to provide services without separating students where at all possible. Our district has taken this to the extreme of bring unwilling even to allow independent study when special needs families request it. Your suggestion is just too uninformed about realities of facilities, politics, laws, and even special needs. The majority of special needs students do not need to be seoarated if the district is doing its job.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 4, 2019 at 6:29 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The district is not doing its job if it is assuming that all students will be crammed into Gunn and PAHS. Time to reactivate CUB so that students can be located close to school instead of all trailing over Alma and ECR to get to Gunn. That is a grind. It makes sense to have the South PA students at CUB. All school systems continually re-evaluate the composition of the student body and resources available at each school. If CUB can provide a more enhanced program for needed programs then good for it. Adding other students that live in South PA that can bike to school with no great impediments is a plus. The student body can be changed up to meet any requirements.


13 people like this
Posted by Get Smart
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2019 at 8:13 pm

@Resident-1
While I completely agree with you that the district should have reopened Cubberley rather than spending money on Gunn and Palo classroom expansions (instead of just improving them for a slightly smaller student body at each), we in the community lost that battle. And while Cubberley may come online someday, it's just a completely different issue than whether the district is or isn't doing its duty by special needs kids.

For example, one of the most common learning disabilities, dysgraphia, is frequently missed in boys -- in our district, I'm guessing if you surveyed teachers about dysgraphia, the majority wouldn't even know what it is, even though they have a duty to identify students proactively and offer services under the Childfind provision of the IDEA. This has nothing whatsoever to do with facilities.

The alarming thing here is that the district's percentages of students it is serving a is a fraction of what you would expect given rates of LD's, and that it can respond to hearing that students of color are identified at a higher rate with a kneejerk eye to reducing those numbers regardless of whether it's the right thing.

The definition of insanity, as they say...



15 people like this
Posted by Don't do anything extra
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 5, 2019 at 7:56 am

@Resident1- your survey is a crock. These parents of special needs kids are held hostage by PAUSD, afraid to speak up lest Pausd mistreat their kids further.

When were these minorities designated as special ed? When they got to HS and PAUSD decided they were too far behind? VTP students come in at kindergarten, not later. Why isn't Pausd educating them so they can actually graduate, rather than be designated special ed and not getting a real HS graduation degree?


23 people like this
Posted by member 1
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 5, 2019 at 8:48 am

The teachers start dumping kids out at any lower level in Kindergarten They are taken out during the Art or Music times which is the best time for them to be making connecting and using a part of the brain that gives them higher order thinking. Taking away an elective also prevents them from being in the music program, arts or taking classes beyond the basic low level core classes. The idea that music and art and elective are able to to be cut out of their lives has been a very large mistake. These are subjects they should be experiencing.

I have seen kids that are not wealthy treated horribly by parents that are working in classrooms so thier little darlings will get preferential treatment. I have seen these room moms and "helpers' work hard to sum up their kids competition starting in Kindergarten. I have seen parents doing kids work, art work or projects and the kid without parents like these do look lower and then live up to the expectations set by staff and community. I remember helping in a classroom and being naive to this and then seeing a kid who did not speak english turn in a cute picture, but needed help with his writitng and heard a teacher say, why bother, he will be what he is. She put his unfinished work up next to the work with the kids she helped. His lower level became public. Whenever there was a photo op though, these kids pictures were posted. The same parents that would not inivte the kids or help them post good looking projects would say how happy they were that their kids had the opportunity to have a multicultural experience as if the kid was put there for so their kids could say this. I would not say that the one African American kid in one class was multicultrual and they liked him in the class, but not in their playgroups. At a pta meeting, I heard a mom say she had pull at the school because of her donations and if they put in a Mandarin school, she "would not give one red cent" to the school.

We left the district happily years and years ago and see the problem is just worse. One thing is the same. Admin only takes information if it is positive or from within. They never accept complaints or consider them as critical information they could use to change. There is no oversight for services. Admin. does not step foot into classrooms and is not visible and students do not know they exist. Complaints made by parents are only used to locate the children of those parents to treat those children even more poorly and hurt them in a public way.

It is not really an achievement gap based in demographics. The achievement reflects exactly what a kid will get from this district without paying for outside help or homeschooling their kid after school. The school should be embarrassed for taking credit for achievements of the higher students. They had little to do with it but love a photo op. They had everything to do with the achievement of minority students.

It is horrible to see such a slap and no humility or remorse for the kids and parents they were paid to serve and failed.






2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 5, 2019 at 1:03 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

WOW - so many experts here. Has anyone asked a teacher(s) how the class load affects their ability to do a job they were trained for. There is a limit as to how many children you can have in a classroom and effectively control the situation and teach the course curriculum. If you exceed the "teachable number" of children in the room then all of the students are getting a bad teaching situation.

What do we tell our teachers when we hire them? Do they sign up for a classroom population that exceeds acceptable limits? Any teacher in a classroom has a limit as to how they can sustain the curriculum if in the middle of growing chaos throughout the day. Bottom line is that Gunn and PAHS have been pushed to the limits of how many students it can effectively teach. Both teachers and students get tired out as the day progresses.

Reactivate CUB and effectively spread the student population out so that the students are located within their geographic location with the ability to transfer if they are in a sports or cultural group that they are already invested in. Give the administrators and teachers a break here. They have been trained to do a job so let them have an environment that is supportive and recognizes that class load is key to management of the classroom.

That is the job of the school system - provide the proper environment for both the students and teachers so they can get the proper attention that they need to teach the curriculum that is designated for the age and topic.


12 people like this
Posted by Mute
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 5, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Yes it is racism. I had a kid of color go through the PAUSD system from K thru 12. It is apalling what happens to students if color in this school district.


18 people like this
Posted by Forced Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2019 at 4:15 pm

I keep referring to the Childfind provision of the IDEA, and apparently no one wants to read or understand it even though it is a legal obligation of the district that incurs liability for compensatory and punitive damages when the district fails this responsibility:
From Wrightslaw: Web Link

"The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act includes the Child Find mandate. Child Find requires all school districts TO identify, locate and evaluate all children with disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disabilities. This obligation to identify all children who may need special education services exists even if the school is not providing special education services to the child."

"The IDEA requires all States to develop and implement a practical method of determining which children with disabilities are receiving special education and related services and which children are not. (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3); Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, pages 72, 206-207).

"Who is Covered by Child Find?

"Schools are required to locate, identify and evaluate all children with disabilities from birth through age 21. The Child Find mandate applies to all children who reside within a State, including children who attend private schools and public schools, highly mobile children, migrant children, homeless children, and children who are wards of the state. (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3))

"This includes all children who are suspected of having a disability, including children who receive passing grades and are "advancing from grade to grade." (34 CFR 300.111(c)) The law does not require children to be "labeled" or classified by their disability. (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3)(B); 34 CFR 300.111(d)).

"Note: You will find the Child Find requirements in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, pages 72, 206-207]

"Why is Child Find Necessary?

"The primary purpose of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is to ensure that all children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education, including special education and related services that are "designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living …" (20 U.S.C. 1400(d); Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, pages 48, 207)

"Another purpose of the law is to help each State implement a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated multi-disciplinary system of Early Intervention Services for infants and toddlers with disabilities. Young children with disabilities must receive appropriate early intervention services to "prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living."

"Congress encourages states to provide Early Intervention Services so children with developmental delays and other disabilities will receive treatment early. Congress enacted the Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers to provide interagency coordination of services to children from birth to two years of age. Under IDEA, states must ensure that children with disabilities are eligible for special education services by age three.

"How is Child Find Implemented?

"The Child Find mandate requires each state to devise a practical method to determine which children are receiving the needed special education services, and which children are not. After identifying children who may need services, all necessary evaluations must be completed on these children, at no cost to parents.

"The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates "general public notice obligations", i.e., using notices to inform and educate the public about the need to locate and identify all children with disabilities.

"What methods should school districts use to identify and locate children who may need special education services?

"In one case, the Court compared estimates of children with disabilities in the general population to the number of youngsters who had been identified by the school district to determine if the district had made adequate efforts to identify children under the Child Find mandate. See Akers v. Bolton, 531 F. Supp. 300 (D. Kan 1981).


Special note to Ken Dauber:
Read the case on the above page starting with "Damages Under Child Find

"What happens if a school refuses to evaluate a child? In the fall of 1995, a landmark case about damages under Child Find was issued by the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The case is W.B. v. Matula, 67 F.3d. 484 (3rd Cir. 1995)."

This could be any number of PAUSD families, both the pushed out and the ignored. There will come a time when your just ignoring people and ignoring your duty under the Childfind provision of the IDEA will come back to bite you, the district, and its administrators, albeit not as much as your utter lack of attention to this legal duty has and is hurting children.


22 people like this
Posted by Forced Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2019 at 4:34 pm

I would argue that the Superintendent's reaction to this circumstance is emblematic of the district's chronic violation of the Childfind provision of the IDEA and avoidance of ever fulfilling this duty.


15 people like this
Posted by Dishonest
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 7, 2019 at 1:41 pm

@Resident1:

The purpose of a public school is to educate its children. Hellooo.....

For minority children at PAUSD, that's not happening.

What's your explanation going to be when class size at PAUSD is actually examined? It's not crowded in elementary school. Or middle school. Elementary school is where the lack of education starts. Check that PAUSD was also cited in 2011 for the same thing...maybe something needs to be done...rather than making excuses.


9 people like this
Posted by Shape Up Or Work Fast Food
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 7, 2019 at 2:51 pm

The Special Ed Program of the PAUSD provides an opportunity for minority children to fully assimilate into the mainstream culture & expectations of being from Palo Alto.

Whether this is right or wrong is debatable.

There are high expectations in terms of academic achievement in this town which differs from other locales such as Seaside, Emeryville, East LA, Watts & parts of the Central Valley.

Basic academic preparation is critical to one's future success as is critical thought & the ability to enunciate like an American citizen.

Speaking Ebonics, street rap, pigeon English & 3rd world foreign accents will be perceived by some as ignorant & of low standing. The same goes for the inability to read, write in ENGLISH & do basic math.

If there is a proportionately high number of minorities in Special Ed, perhaps it is because their parents are lax and/or don't care about their children's academic potential or later vocations.

Palo Alto is not East Palo Alto or Redwood City or Richmond.

And Palo Alto is not racist. It is a town that acknowledges achievement & good character.

Perhaps the only way to escape the constraints of Special Ed is natural athletic ability for if one can run with a football, a Special Ed program is unnecessary.

Just look at the NFL & some of the well-paid sociopathson the gridiron.




5 people like this
Posted by Shape Up Or Work Fast Food
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 7, 2019 at 2:52 pm

The Special Ed Program of the PAUSD provides an opportunity for minority children to fully assimilate into the mainstream culture & expectations of being from Palo Alto.

Whether this is right or wrong is debatable.

There are high expectations in terms of academic achievement in this town which differs from other locales such as Seaside, Emeryville, East LA, Watts & parts of the Central Valley.

Basic academic preparation is critical to one's future success as is critical thought & the ability to enunciate like an American citizen.

Speaking Ebonics, street rap, pigeon English & 3rd world foreign accents will be perceived by some as ignorant & of low standing. The same goes for the inability to read, write in ENGLISH & do basic math.

If there is a proportionately high number of minorities in Special Ed, perhaps it is because their parents are lax and/or don't care about their children's academic potential or later vocations.

Palo Alto is not East Palo Alto or Redwood City or Richmond.

And Palo Alto is not racist. It is a town that acknowledges achievement & good character.

Perhaps the only way to escape the constraints of Special Ed is natural athletic ability for if one can run with a football, a Special Ed program is unnecessary.

Just look at the NFL & some of the well-paid sociopaths on the gridiron.




3 people like this
Posted by Lost In America
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 7, 2019 at 6:50 pm

Excesses in cultural diversity is destroying traditional American culture.

At one time, English & Spanish were the only two cross-referenced languages. Now there are over 25 different languages on DMV & various Social Services forms.

What's with that?

At one time, America was primarily comprised of white people, black people, asians & Hispanics & most of them spoke English. Not any more.

Immigration has led to the gradual dilution of American culture...sad.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 8, 2019 at 10:35 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

As a side note I grew up in the Los Angeles Unified School System before Kamala Harris was born. And busing of students was the norm. This was required because the centers of population were leaving the center cities and moving out to the San Fernando Valley where huge new schools were being built. So people who were bussed in were no longer on the books and then the remaining students had to be spread out so each school had the minimum requirements of heads to stay open. I can assume the same happened in Berkley where the center of population was moving over the hills to the new, growing communities flanking HWY 24 and 680. Less to do with race and more to do with demographics.
You could say the same for the peninsula which had a large population working in defense - Moffatt Field, Ford Aerospace in PA. Then a lull in which population was now moving elsewhere.
So now we are back in the population growing period and have to address that situation - and not by overloading Gunn and PAHS so that their student per classroom percentage is now unmanageable. That means re-opening CUB so that the teachers and administrators can have a more manageable number of students in the classroom which will reduce chaos. If anything else reducing chaos in the classroom is a good part of solving this problem. The schools have to get their headcount down to manageable numbers.


13 people like this
Posted by Forced Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2019 at 12:34 pm

With all due respect, Resident1, just because something sounds reasonable doesn’t mean it’s true. Moffett Field is mostly NASA and now Google. NASA is not a defense agency. The Air Force took over the large wind tunnel mostly because of funding and the fact that it’s expensive (and does hurt them, too) to lose that kind of capability if NASA cant afford to keep it open. But Moffett is still largely engaged in civilian work, not defense.

While you make a good point hat opening Cubberley and keeping school sizes more reasonable could be better, including for the achievement gap, that debate was settled. The building at Gunn and Paly was to make larger campuses that can take larger student bodies, rather than making three smaller campuses. That was a decision for how to spend the bond funds by the then board. That die has been cast. But that’s about student body size, not class size, which can be smaller on a large campus. Class size is dependent on other issues, not whether Cubberley is opened.

My concern is that too much focus on facilities takes away from the many things that can and should be done in order to make our special ed program legally and morally functional for all students, they are not dependent issues in this very wealthy district. (Unless you are looking at things like asthma that affect traditionally underrepresented minorities disproportionately, and whether the district is doing all it can to minimize that.)


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 8, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Excuse me - but the major employer of Moffat Field and the local environment was Lockheed Martin. Major builder of satellites and other defense products for NASA and other military customers. Ford Aerospace in PA - now Oshman - was also a major defense contractor.
Lockheed has moved many of their products to other states due to tax issues. Also the buildings were wearing down and had to be replaced. So sold to Yahoo, etc who replaced those buildings. Ford sold their military wing to Loral who did a bad job and later sold to another company. I worked in those buildings that were replaced.
You also had the Blue Cube - a classified Air Force satellite tracking agency who has moved to other locations.
NASA is an end user of products but not the builder of those products.


22 people like this
Posted by Back to basic
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 8, 2019 at 3:31 pm

@Lost In America:

But immigrants might better understand the root cause of the problem.

The achievement gap deviding under-resourced students from more advantaged ones in PAUSD and other school districts will never shrink but will keep growing, as long as the U.S. schools are misguided by the progressive education doctrines and the vast public remains ignorant about the dumbing-down process since a century ago.

This essay "Why the Palo Alto Schools Failed in Closing the Achievement Gap or Reducing Stress?" Web Link probes the woe with many hard facts collected from Palo Alto Online. The thread on a hit article,"My Childhood Schooling in the Soviet Union was Better than my Kids’in U.S. Public Schools Today," is also relavant: Web Link.

In PAUSD, only 16% of disadvantaged students met math standards, a result not much better than the EPA schools.In California, less than 7% of black or Latino students met the math standards, and most of them are far below reading and writing proficiency. Such depressing outcome is not surprising to us at all. For those of us who had our rigorous K-12 schooling from our home country, PAUSD's K-8 education is weak, deficient, and misguided. Had we not supported our kids' study at home, our kids would fare just the same.

But the disadvantaged minority kids CAN be high-achievers, if they receive a truly high-standard education.

In the 1980s, Jaime Escalante, a math teacher of an East Los Angeles high school in an impoverished neighborhood, got hundreds of his students—sons and daughters of day laborers, seamstresses, house cleaners—to pass the AP Calculus exam, and many of them have performed remarkably well in college and later in their careers. Some time around the 1990s, 14 of Escalante's students were attending Harvard, Yale, or MIT. Amar Bose, the late MIT professor who founded Bose Corp., paid a one-week visit to Escalante's classroom to study his teaching style. A 1988 Hollywood film Stand and Deliver and a 2016 Forever stamp immortalized Escalante.
Web Link

In 2016, at Lincoln High, a Los Angeles school where 80% of the students are Latino, the young math teacher Anthony Yom got his whole class to pass the AP Calculus exam, and a student named Cedrick Argueta was one of the twelve students in the world to earn a perfect score.
Web Link

In 2018, at New York City’s Success Academy schools, 98 percent of the students passed state math tests and 91 percent passed reading tests, and Success Academy schools occupied the list of top city schools in math proficiency. This achievement comes from a student group made up of 95 percent children of color and whose families have a median income of $32,000.
(continuing)


7 people like this
Posted by Back to basic
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 8, 2019 at 3:33 pm

PAUSD has been under heavy influence from progressive-minded educational experts (notably certain elite professors from School of Education at Stanford), who have mesmerized teachers, administrators and parents with their relentlessly destructive curriculum and pedagogy. The century-long progressive education crusade has captivated the U.S. public schools into a Dark Age. Without the reign of teachers' unions, those fraudulent progressive education doctrines would have not become so entrenched.

"Animal Farm" and "1984" are among the required readings in most U.S. high schools. But how many Americans have ever applied any hard thinking learned from these two books to those deceitful ideologies reigning American schools?

To close the achievement gap, the American public need to study the progressive-education fads disguised in fancy terms like "21st century skills," "conceptual understanding," "brain science" and so forth(See E.D. Hirsch's "Education Terminology Every Parent Must Understand”Web Link). Teachers should hold high expectations for all students, regardless of their background; believe in their ability to learn; challenge them with hard problems; and teach them rigorous content.

In the past half century,"Americans have debated how to approach our education system and have called for reforms of every description." However, American K-12 public education will continue to deteriorate under the reign of teachers' unions and their educational expert allies. The chance is tiny that an educational Renaissance will dawn on America in a quarter century.

I feel so sorry for the under-resourced kids who rely exclusively on school education. This website www.studibee.org offers a guide for those who are interested in free online tutoring and great learning resources available from our public libraries.


12 people like this
Posted by Forced Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2019 at 3:42 pm

@Resident-1,
Excuse me, I didn't realize you were going back to the '40s and '50s. I still couldn't say if you are correct about Lockheed, but Moffett Field has been in the past more involved in military. (lots of things were in WWII).

That said, you aren't even spelling it correctly, and you are just wrong about NASA, which was founded as a civilian organization and was not at its founding nor has it ever been anything except a civilian agency, it was never a "military customer" nor has it ever been a branch or agency of the military.

The Blue Cube is military and is not used by NASA, and if it was ever on Moffett (I'll take your word for it), it hasn't been since the '80s, it's been on Lockheed property in Sunnyvale which is south of Moffett Field but is not Moffett Field.

As with your points about the school district, you undermine your valid positions (that I even agree with) with poor and often wrong information.


19 people like this
Posted by Forced Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2019 at 3:57 pm

@Back to basic,
While I do agree with many of your criticisms about our system, to say that it is "progressive" versus something else is just hogwash. What Jaime Escalante did in his classroom was by definition progressive, he was doing something to get results that went against the status quo.

There are currently so many resources available for those who want to learn independently, it has definitely sparked greater movement in homeschooling by people who are just going for the superior individualized education for their children. In the Bay Area, I can tell you from experience that a great, great many homeschoolers are doing this because school did such a bad job with 2e children -- both supporting giftedness and specific learning disabilities. (In our district's case this went beyond incompetence to deliberately forcing a lot of people out and hurting their children if they complained.) It is one of the major nasties still under the rug in our district that promises to come out like the last scandals because our district never learns.

Schools can get the benefits of the same individualization that homeschoolers get, in fact probably many people would return to schools if they could do that. The biggest problem with the Prussian model of education is just the way it takes away autonomy. Proponents of "rigor" often tend to conflate advanced studies with stripping autonomy, and that's just a false connection. One thing I find truly sad about our local districts is how people seem to think that learning challenging things must be painful rather than joyful or it's not possible to be advanced. Also, so much of "special ed" is only necessary because of often unnecessary academic overhead that wouldn't even be an issue if students had more autonomy and respect in their learning.


10 people like this
Posted by classaction
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2019 at 1:20 am

@forcedout
thank you for bringing some lilght on it. Those that find themselves favored by the the District can't imagine the lawless reprehensible trauma 2E and other special needs kids experience. My children are scarred for life!

Perhaps it's time for all us forced out and abused to get a class action going.....


14 people like this
Posted by classaction
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2019 at 1:24 am

@forcedout
thank you for bringing some lilght on it. Those that find themselves favored by the the District can't imagine the lawless reprehensible trauma 2E and other special needs kids experience. My children are scarred for life!

Perhaps it's time for all us forced out and abused to get a class action going.....


And be forewarned folks, the promise is gibberish. Even the school board thinks it's words on a page without goals, consistent references or goals, much less what will be better for a child. How will their lives improve?

The District never allows you to hold them accountable for results. They just count the "swings", doesn't matter if they hit the ball or not.


6 people like this
Posted by member 1
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 9, 2019 at 8:36 am

@ forced out.. with so many lawyers, they do not care. They will put the money out to not have anything with their name on it. They would rather be sued than say they are sorry or talk to a child and parent and figure out what needs to be done in real time. It can be a big thing or a little thing, but they will not respond and if they are sued, they do not care. They act confused and play games with meetings, times and emails all while the child needing help wait and waits and is retaliated against while seeing his parents go in and be treated like they are nothing, so they realize they are also worth nothing to the district adults.



Special ed is weak because of lack of individualized time with credentialed teachers. Random aids with no educational degrees are not experts in learning disorders or even just remediation are the ones that the kids without money for tutors have to rely on for years and then they are not ready for HS, are put in low level group classes and are again separated from their peers. It was painful to see the kid that needed help leave with an aid who could hardly speak English herself. The other kids needing help just bought it and then presented the skills to the teacher and then were not put in special ed.

This seems wrong and discriminatory.

Why not spend the money on AJ tutoring instead of hiring aids so the kids without money have the same exact help their peers do. This crew has done really well to help the kids with money and are professionals. Why not. Obviously the special ed system does not work. The kids with money have avoided special ed and are graduation with UC a-g credits to apply to college and the ones in special ed are not. The weak link is delivery of services in time to make a difference. To much time is spent on verifying that the special ed dept is fitting things in their rubrics.



1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 9, 2019 at 10:55 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The use of Moffat Field is just for general information. The major complex is Moffat Park which extends from Caribbean Street on the east side. Most companies have multiple buildings throughout that location. However if you go look now it has torn up and is rebuilding because many of the structures were no longer earthquake safe. Google has just bought a whole set of blocks within that location. Amazon has a new building within that overall location. LM also had a major structure complex at Zanker and Montague - 4 buildings. That has been sold and has a new owner. It did get some damage in the last big earthquake.

Timelines for this area are specific to government/commercial contracts which have varying periods of performance and products. Manufacturing products have been moved out to other states. However "intelligence" products which do not require heavy manufacturing are present.

The point of this discussion is that the overall population available is based on many factors of which major contractors are at the top. That is "employment" which is within commute location to PA. So the student population is waxing and waning based on proximity of major employment opportunities. Those opportunities sank in a time period and are now rising again based on new contractors who are taking over. You can expect that the student population is going to rise now so planning should be under way so that Gunn and PAHS can function in a reasonable manner. The education availability follows the overall health of the region. It has to expand to meet the overall expansion of growth.


3 people like this
Posted by pa
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 9, 2019 at 6:44 pm

You mean like this horror story just last year with the current Legal team stating at the school board meeting, "Great support, great response, great judgment. Couldn't be better, nothing more to ask for.""


Web Link

Does anyone know how this kid is doing now? How could he possibly go back to school after every teacher and therapist broke his privacy and trust! Not to mention fail to support his autism. The record shows PAUSD was fighting his diagnosis. A lot of ignorant and conflicting testimony by District but unfortunately the student's representation couldn't overcome the corruption.


7 people like this
Posted by pa
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 9, 2019 at 6:45 pm

You mean like this horror story just last year with the current Legal team stating at the board meeting, "Great support, great response, great judgment. Couldn't be better, nothing more to ask for."


Web Link

Does anyone know how this kid is doing now? How could he possibly go back to school after every teacher and therapist broke his privacy and trust! Not to mention fail to support his autism. The record shows PAUSD was fighting his diagnosis. A lot of ignorant and conflicting testimony by District but unfortunately the student's representation couldn't overcome the corruption.


2 people like this
Posted by Forced Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2019 at 8:23 am

@pa,
The link doesn't go to a story about a specific student, do you have another link?


7 people like this
Posted by PAhome
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 10, 2019 at 10:22 am

My child is in special education and yes there are lots of Latino kids in my kid’s classroom, with non verbal autism, Down syndrome and other significant special needs. These kids are bused from east palo alto, unincorporated Menlo Park and other surrounding areas because ravenswood school district and other school districts don't have the resources. Their parents are happy their kids are in PAUSD. Why punish PAUSD for taking in these students?


8 people like this
Posted by Forced Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2019 at 11:35 am

@PAhome,
I agree that PAUSD should not be penalized for doing something right, as you describe. However, special ed students in special classroom circumstances you describe are a small fraction of the special ed students in Palo Alto. Students who have a medical 504 (for some dumb reason) are lumped in the special ed umbrella, and students with all kinds of mainstreamable learning disabilities with IEP's -- the majority -- are also under special ed.

But either way, it's pretty chilling for the district superintendent to kneejerk announce that the way he'll solve the problem is by ensuring fewer students are identified for or allowed services, without any understanding of why there is a disproportionate number. Recent history would tend to support the fact that students who needed services were not properly identified and referred for services, not that too many students of color were.

Again, everyone (especially those who work for the district) should read an understand the Childfind provision of the IDEA. This is the law, one that our district has through all of these investigations still managed to grossly violate.
Web Link




7 people like this
Posted by SMH
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 10, 2019 at 1:00 pm

In real life, you can’t guarantee equality of outcomes: like guaranteeing an equal percentage of each (somehow designated) ethnic heritage receive the same proportion of A’s — or of high school graduation rates in the state of CA.
But with the removal of the basic high school exit exam, CAHSEE several years back, and other schemes to quasi-grade students according to from what I recently read, something like “where they started from and where they got to” (!?) or grading based on “effort,” this has now become sheer nonsense.
There is a need for absolute, neutral standards - this IS meaningful. Grade a spelling test of 10 words and have a standard as to what’s an A, what’s a B, C, D, F.
CA public education is increasingly nonsensical and largely for show.


10 people like this
Posted by An American Negro In Paris
a resident of another community
on Sep 10, 2019 at 1:12 pm

I was a part of the PAUSD Special Education program back in the late 1950s. I believe it was considered speech therapy or something along those lines.

Our instructor taught us via phonetics games & it was fun because we got to get out of class (2nd through 3rd grade) for a 30 minute period.

Today I am considered reasonably versed in the English language & while the program may have been considered racist by today's PC standards, it taught us to speak & enunciate on an intelligent-sounding level.

Today I am appalled by the black 'language of the streets' regardless of whether it has been parlayed into successful rap/hip-hop careers.

And the same goes for Hawaiian 'pigeon' English which sounds crude & ignorant at best.

As Sinclair Lewis once noted...the only ones who speak in slang or pigeon English are those who never learned to speak proper English or their native tongues.

To fully assimilate in America, we must remove ethnic accents as they have a separatist nature to them which can be a disadvantage vocationally.


8 people like this
Posted by pa
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 10, 2019 at 2:50 pm

@Forcedout (You're my hero!)

First comment after the article

Web Link

"Posted by Psychologist and Attorney Fees
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on May 29, 2018 at 1:58 am
Let's hope they do want to become less adversarial and reduce attorney fees. Let's hope they can increase trust of their staff toward students and families. However, looking at the case presented to the Board in closed session before this meeting, the District does not want to. Student vs PAUSD, OAH Case No. 2017110106:
Web Link

PAUSD paid 2 attorneys to attend this case. Was paying for 2 attorneys necessary to fight a single mother of a disabled child, injured in an automobile accident, on disability without work?

The District also paid 4 School District Psychologists to testify against the child. What is worrisome is these are the people who hold the most confidential mental health information in a sacred trust.

Add to this the 5 Special Education Teachers and Therapists, again people held in trust by parents, and 8 General Education Teachers.

Is this what Special Education uses our taxes for? The staff members were out of class while the two attorneys prepared and coached them to testify. They were not teaching while they were testifying.

Couldn't the District have done this more efficiently?

Especially worrisome was the use of PAUSD Central School District Psychologists [portion removed.] While many of these people indicate they are experts in autism or their fields, and perhaps they are in some way, most of them are not, and are sadly overstating their expertise. As Dr. Rodriguez reported at the Board meeting, PAUSD psychologists are generalists and asked to handle too many areas they are not trained in. Also the case reads like there was a tremendous amount of Group Think going on. (Dr. Sheridan was - wait for it - an expert in the child's file! Great, she read the file!)

PAUSD's Mental Health Resources were not put in place to harm children. They were put in place to help children and reduce suicides. This shows this is not how PAUSD is using this staff. More worrisome, this testimony happened after the new Assistant Superintendent and Special Education Co-Directors were hired, and with approval of the Board of Education.

The District also states it has rich mental health resources at school. It is disheartening the resources some Board members fought so hard for are instead being used to harm children. Here, they practices a common Special Education tactic - stating resources just put in place (if that is accurate), are fully functioning and working effectively. The staff surveys presented that same evening show the opposite.

Special Education employees with their own lawyers, use of multiple employees to attack parents of suffering children. This is exactly the staff behavior and attitude that brought the District into the mess of the past years.

Attorneys for PAUSD:
1.Elizabeth J. Rho-Ng -Attorney at Law
2. Michael L. Turner - Attorney at Law

Here are all the PAUSD teachers who testified against their student with autism:

PAUSD Teachers:
1.World History teacher [portion removed]
2.Theatre teacher [portion removed]
3.Math teacher [portion removed]
4.Physical education teacher [portion removed]
5.Spanish 3 Teacher [portion removed]
6.History and Government teacher [portion removed]
7.English teacher [portion removed]
8.Chemistry teacher [portion removed]

PAUSD Psycholigists and Mental Health Therapists:
9. [portion removed] - a licensed marriage and family therapist, director of ERMHS therapy - testified about Student’s
mental health status and therapy history
10. [portion removed], a contract ERMHS therapist
11. [portion removed] - School psychologist
12. Dr. Stephanie Sheridan, Psychologist, Director of Special Education (Secondary)

PAUSD Special Education Teachers and Therapists:
13 [portion removed] - Academic Communications teacher (Special Education)
14. [portion removed] - Academic Communications class at Jordan
15. [portion removed] - a special education teacher
16. [portion removed] - speech and language pathologist
17. [portion removed] - AT, described as a 'technology expert' who was also a special education teacher"


1 person likes this
Posted by well...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2019 at 9:45 pm

interesting set of redactions


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Barron Park

on Sep 11, 2019 at 6:47 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Like this comment
Posted by Veddy Eenteresting
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 11, 2019 at 10:23 pm

@Well... Yes, interesting reductions.

Reducted can be found here, public info: Web Link

Thank you @pa for posting the case number!
Above link found using information you provided.


2 people like this
Posted by well...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2019 at 3:31 am

Wow. I waded through the 65 pages of OAH Case No. 2017110106.
Thanks for the link, yes, Veddy Eenteresting, if you're into that sort thing.
All I can do is shake my head. Further comment would be deemed inappropriate.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 14, 2019 at 7:06 pm

Could we have the numbers for percent of caucasian and asian students in special ed? Without those figures, we have no basis to assess how out of whack, if at all, the hispanic and african american numbers are.

I have also heard that lots of people want their kids in Palo Alto special ed because it is so well funded, compared to many other districts. Is there data to support that?


Like this comment
Posted by Member 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 16, 2019 at 3:35 pm

On the autism case.

They convinced her to stop supporting her son and then the let him fail. Which was her greatest fear. There are other ways to evaluate students. Gifted kids are often special ed too. This district does not understand that working below levels and being put in tiny boxed rubrics damages brilliant great thinkers. This kid could evaluate himself and should have. The teachers were all positive couldn’t the theater portfolio have been a video or taped commentary. Kids like these that love learning should be treasured not trashed This parent should pull him out and homeschool with him choosing curriculum that is 3 classes at the most in depth for shorter time periods so he can work on management half the time but still go in depth and go forward.


1 person likes this
Posted by Member1
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 17, 2019 at 10:57 am

The obvious point that is buried is that kids in special ed will not necessarily get the help they need, the autism cas shows that even a brilliant child that is not a minority it was not given the scaffolding needed to meet his potentiality seems he did less well in special ed.


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