Do special needs kids come second in OUSD?

photo by Alison D. Yin/STAFF

Much ‘ink’ in this forum has been devoted to the question of space: which Oakland children get to attend which public schools.

In June, on the last week of school, district staff told a small group of special education families that the program for blind children with developmental disabilities would be moved out of Montclair Elementary School.

I wrote a story about the controversial relocation, which ran in today’s Tribune. You can read it here.

What do you think about the district’s decision to move the program?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • toni rosso

    Thanks for the article. I’m a teacher for the visually impaired that served the VI classroom at Montclair Elementary. We fought very hard on all fronts to keep that classroom in place. At the very least, your article shines a spotlight on an unfortunate, but very common issue that deserves more attention. Thank you. Toni Rosso

  • Elexuz

    Just because they are “special Ed'” doesnt make them numb to feelings.

  • Hills Neighborhood Parent

    I feel bad that this group of blind children was moved to another school. BUT I would feel worst for a neighborhood family in Montclair if they couldn’t get into their local school due to lack of space.

  • Cassandra

    I agree that special education students do come in second. And the OUSD could care less about the students.

  • Sheila Brethauer

    I am a teacher of the visually impaired and I shared a classroom at Glenview this summer with Taylor and his students. They are a wonderful group of students and Taylor does an amazing job working with these kids. Montclair Elementary has lost an important element of inclusion in my opinion. The school also offered easy access to the village for community based learning, as stated in the article. The concerned parents and teachers of these students fought hard to keep the classroom at Montclair. Glenview School and the local community will be enriched with the addition of this class, but with great upheaval to these students. The parents met with Taylor during summer school to inspect the portable at Glenview where the class will be relocated. Hopefully, the renovations will be completed before school starts, to ensure a smoother transition.

  • Sue

    Yes, I think Spec. Ed. gets “pushed to the rear of the bus” (with apologies to African Americans) a lot of the time. The only thing I’ve seen that prevents it is when families in a program manage to band together and fight for their kids. That is *really* hard to do successfully.

    My son’s ASIP program has weakened since the district forced out one of our families who was a leader at getting the information out and getting all the families together. We’ve missed that leadership, and our kids’ program has stagnated. I think most of the other programs didn’t have that sort of leadership to begin with, and their kids get short-changed and pushed around.

    The only solution I can see is to get the Federal government to fully fund IDEA which has never happened. The district has a long history of pitting the general ed population against special ed, so they can avoid some of the expenses of special ed programs. Funny thing is, the word “encroachment” never occurs in state or federal law – it’s just a term administrators use to try and make their Spec. Ed. “problems” go away.

  • Biddy

    It would be news to me if any school district treated special needs’ children as anything but second class citizens. Sounds like DREDEF needs to step in – these children are now effectively denied access to their local community.

  • jan

    I hope our new superintendent will try to make school easier for special ed kids, not create new problems for them.

    Thanks to you, Katy, for telling their story. And thanks to the kids, their families and their teachers for working hard towards a noble goal — educating ALL of our children.

  • Catherine

    I know that space issues are part of the problem and some problems cost a great deal of money to fix.

    However, some problems like the automatic doors would be an easy fix. Look at Redwood Heights, several parents, volunteers and guest have complained because the automatic door openers do not even work. Hit the button and you will stand there until after the school shuts down for the night. Several requests were made to the principal and the only response is that the “handicapped children have aides to open the doors for them.” Whatever happened to living as independent a life as possible? And what ever happened to self respect for those visitors with no aide who have to wait for someone to open the door for them?

  • John

    In special and regular education so called “encroachment” goes both ways. When a school environment is occupied by bused in special education students thereby preventing regular education students from attending their neighborhood school, its territorial encroachment for sure!

    Regular education teachers with wall to wall students who observe special education classes with relatively few students and a teacher with one or several aides might feel a bit left behind knowing that special education funding insufficiencies are compensated for with regular education resources. I tend to think of special education as more “compromising” to regular education than “encroaching.”

    Between special education & NCLB, resources have been in large measure going to the dumbest kids in the room, a real boon for private schools benefiting from public school refugee enrollments, NOT a boon for parents who pay high private school tuition (if they can afford it), along with the taxes they hemorrhage for our dumbed down public schools.

    Perhaps parents and other advocates for learners showing moderate to high on the bell shape curve need to draft an updated ‘school voucher’ ballot initiative. The time is putrid ripe.

    Sue: Regarding your disclosure that the district “forced out one of our (advocate) families?” I’d like to know the specifics.

  • Sue
  • mary

    To HIlls Neighborhood Parent. I suggest you go to your local school and ask how many students actually live in the neighborhood. With the district open enrollment policies you may be surprised. Special education students have as much right to be at a hill school as a child of a parent who is using a friends address, is a sibling of an older student who was enrolled at a time when the numbers were low or whose neighborhood school has not met expectations. The real losers here are the general education students who will no longer have an opportunity to interact with a disabled student. What a loss for their education.

  • Sherry

    This comment is for Catherine.
    We at Redwood Heights do not have or never have had automatic doors. Where did you see the buttons for the door openers? If these buttons and doors do not exist, how can they then be repaired?

  • John

    Sue, the content of your reference makes no mention (in response to my question) of circumstances & events pertaining to your disclosure that the district “forced out one of our (advocate) families” However, If you’re unable to elaborate I do understand.

  • Marie Wenster

    Although we were unsuccessful in stopping the relocation, we want to thank you for writing our story and bringing out onto a bigger stage.

  • Sue

    Sorry, John. There was a link in the blog item that used to give the Tribune story.

    Basically, the student ended up in a private school – after the district settled the family’s lawsuit with amazing speed.

  • T

    Whoa… I am burning…John, you are obviously a buffoon. I dare you to spend one week teaching any special education class. Most special ed classes are truly underfunded and the children are often short-changed, getting the least of everything. Also to refer to special needs children as the dumbest kids is offensive. Did you know that there are gifted special education students with behavioral needs that cannot be addressed in a general education setting? Many successful people were in special education classes including Jim Carrey and Charles Schwabb. A lot of time they end up in classrooms were they don’t belong. I have seen it several times in my short teaching career. Ignorant people like yourself push special education students, parents, teachers, and advocates to the back of the bus for sure. I cannot even go there with you because I don’t want to waste my time.

  • Katy Murphy

    Sue and John – The link to the story (from last October) that Sue referenced earlier works now:


  • Sue

    Thank you, Katy.

    I was actually a little bit relieved when it didn’t work, though. Not wanting to reopen old wounds.

  • John

    T (Rex?) You don’t have to dare me to teach a special education class for one week, I taught special education classes for 27 years!

    What I say isn’t popular or PC, it’s just true.

    And thanks for pointing out some sp ed student exceptions to the norm. It’s obviously the most pointed arrow in your quiver of pointless facts.

    Yet come to think of it, one of history’s greatest classical music composers was deaf – so I guess deaf folk have a future in the music industry. What impeccable logic!

    And thanks for taking the time to “waste your time” responding to my post. I’m sure Jim Carrey and Charles Schwabb feel vindicated by your astute observation. I sure do!

  • John

    Thank you Katy.

    I reviewed it but will withhold comment in the interest of “not wanting to reopen old wounds,”
    and risk forsaking the hard won affections of my now good friend.