Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sacramento trip

Several parents from around San Diego invited me to join them in a trip to Sacramento to speak to the Advisory Commission on Special Education on the 22nd, set up in obedience to 20 USC Section 1412 to advise the governor, the legislature, and the state board of education on Special Education issues. We all had something to say, and I was surprised at how well received we were. It's only an advisory commission, but that is by no means worthless. People do listen.

My statement to the Advisory Commission, with a clause redacted for legal reasons:

I’m Peter Attwood, father of Stephen Attwood. Stephen has had no schooling at all since March 2007, pushing three years.

Stephen has Asperger’s Syndrome, like me. At the end of 2006 he was in desperate trouble in school, severely depressed and traumatized by his school experience.Chino Valley Unified School District and I both did much to make him that way. Come January, he refused to go to school at all and was put on Home & Hospital at the direction of his psychologist. That too quickly went bad. Like most parents I knew nothing about Special Education law. CVUSD took advantage of my ignorance and didn’t offer to assess him, even though it was obvious to all that he was emotionally disturbed and that that was keeping him from being able to handle school.

To avoid SE, CVUSD decided to have him drugged – putting him in a happy daze would make him want to do his school work. After they nagged about that for a month, they arranged an assessment by a school nurse in our apartment on false pretenses. They had him dragged away on a 5150 hold for three days. CVUSD’s paperwork shows that they knew he was not suicidal. They failed to get him on drugs, but they managed to make him unable ever to go to school.

CDE found that CVUSD had obeyed Child Find (S-0521-07/08), because they did offer to assess him over two months AFTER these events. And their offer to assess in June was in the same way prior notice for the assessment that took place two months before, in March (S-0663-07/08).

We recently settled our due process case, and I hoped that we would achieve a cold peace, if not friendship. CVUSD promptly retaliated against my long defense of my son by having their lawyer send me a letter accusing me of sexually harassing their employees at school board meetings. That’s their habit: they made a similar – and debunked - accusation against a Board member three years ago to get rid of him, and against two school principals before that whom they wanted to get rid of. Because of Stephen’s extreme fear of the District, especially in light of the implacable hostility he sees in their latest behavior, Stephen is unable to attend his current placement, . . ., so he can get no school at least until January.

These three years have taught us that the bottom line for the entire education establishment is that there must be impunity for educational professionals that abuse kids – as we saw last May in the House Education and Labor Committee hearing. They may be coaxed, admonished, or even subjected to empty threats, but on no account should bad behavior actually be punished. They have taught Stephen little else these three years, but they have made him know like his name that nobody in the education bureaucracy really cares. The foxes are watching the henhouse, and Stephen clearly sees the feathers sticking out of their mouths.

Now if I run a red light, even a right turn slow and go, that’s $500. But lawless conduct by an educational bureaucrat that trashes a kid’s life for years and maybe for keeps – who can imagine that abuser having to pay even a $500 ticket?

I’ve seen, in Beirut, how traffic is when violators face no consequences. That’s why it’s safer to drive in California than in Beirut, but not safer here to go to school.

American education, the most cost-ineffective in the world, looks like traffic in the streets of Beirut for the same reason – wrongdoers face no consequences. Since there is no money, it’s actually good news that money is really not our problem.

Here’s the problem. The whole industry, including its regulators, is devoted to mutual back-scratching and enabling incompetence. If someone’s no good, they give him a wonderful recommendation so he’ll be hired elsewhere, like pedophile priests hopping from parish to parish. Who does not know this?

CDE won’t investigate and enforce if it’s too embarrassing - in other words, if the abuse is too shocking. And when CDE whitewashes, there’s no appeal, so where’s the accountability? OAH is hopelessly biased against parents, and how many have the resources to fight a big DP anyway? The legislature passes some good law, but where are its teeth?

If this is what they do to my kid, with everyone’s approval, how many other kids are being ground up out there? And how many of those wind up being your guests in prison at $45K per year?

Some years ago, California changed the whole nation with the Lanterman Act. I can’t say I expect it or even hope for it, but what if California actually brought accountability to the education brass – to start handing out traffic tickets, at least, to the willful or reckless abusers of our kids and to those that cover up for them?

3 Comments:

Blogger Pomona Joe said...

Good job.

"Here’s the problem. The whole industry, including its regulators, is devoted to mutual back-scratching and enabling incompetence. If someone’s no good, they give him a wonderful recommendation so he’ll be hired elsewhere, "

I've seen this be true.

10/26/2009 6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering why you have not mentioned the following as an assistance to others:
http://www.aspergersyndrome.org/Home.aspx
Have you, being an Asperger syndrome diagnosed individual, been to the site. I would be interested in your comments.

2/22/2010 3:02 PM  
Blogger Peter Attwood said...

I've never pursued it, but I'll start looking into it. Thanks.

2/22/2010 10:06 PM  

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