Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 3:43 am | Fair 43º


Stakeholders Get to Work on Special-Ed Recommendations

Five subgroups begin to address changes suggested in the FCMAT report for the Santa Barbara district

Stakeholders in the Santa Barbara School Districts’ special-education department discussed recommendations to the program during a four-hour meeting on Monday.

The meeting was mandated by the Board of Education and is a step toward implementing changes recommended by FCMAT, a consultant firm that evaluated the program and found it wanting.

The stakeholder group includes parents, board members, representatives of local organizations, faculty and staff. District office staff and others attended the meeting but were not members of the work group.

Five subgroups were formed, of five or six people each, and tackled different categories of the many recommendations.

Major themes for improvement include having clearly defined goals, better communication, consistency through procedural manuals and a defined chain of command, and an administrative willingness to hear new ideas.

In each subgroup’s presentation of priorities, nearly every recommendation was given “priority A” status, and it was decided that there’s more work to do before moving on to the next step.

Monday’s meeting wasn’t enough to consolidate the large list of recommendations into a workable matter, interim special-ed administrator Caryl Miller said. The group will meet again Oct. 12 for further discussion, and the three community input sessions are postponed until after that date.

The Board of Education’s motion mandated the group to consolidate and prioritize the list, then make a priority time line and identify the responsible entities. Many members asked for the group’s mission to be expanded, and for additional ideas for improvement — those the FCMAT didn’t address — to be considered.

“I can’t think of a better source of those ideas than these people,” said Dr. Bob Noel, a board member and member of the stakeholder group. “Otherwise, we’re following a script written by FCMAT.”

The administrative staff already has began implementing some of the recommended changes, and they will show evidence of those changes to help the improvement process move along, Associate Superintendent Robin Sawaske said.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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