Here’s the text from the memo the Oakland school district administration circulated yesterday with its rationale for the recent last-minute special education resource teacher reassignments. Deputy Superintendent Maria Santos told the school board that nine of the 26 teachers were reinstated to their original schools. It sounded as though more might follow.
OEA President Trish Gorham said this to the administration, noting that actual student numbers won’t be known until school starts: “It’s OK to admit you were wrong. Accept it, own it, hit the pause button. … For the sake of over 500 of our most vulnerable students who are affected by this outrageous proposal, do the right thing.”
August 22, 2012
Memo on Program for Exceptional Children (PEC) Staff Reassignments
On Thursday, August 16, OUSD’s Program for Exceptional Children (PEC) mailed letters to all PEC staff informing them of their assignments for the upcoming 2012-13 school year. This is a conventional practice performed annually, however, the number of Resource Specialist reassignments was higher than years in the recent past.
Despite the increase in reassignments, OUSD will continue to provide students with all services as specified in their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and meet or exceed all statewide standards. The staffing adjustments do not represent a change in the basic operation of the department, but the number of reassignments has grown significantly. The increase was necessary in order to:
• compensate for a sharp drop in the number of students requiring Resource Specialist services and a dramatic increase in Special Day Classes (SDC) which put a premium on aligning Resource Specialist programs to state and federal guidelines.
• group assignments in a way that reduces travel time for staff on average and increases the amount of time spent working directly with students.
• cope with the movement of students as a consequence of school closures and the withdrawal of some charter schools from OUSD’s Special Education Plan Area (SELPA).
• accommodate staff requests for transfers such as those related to the Teacher on Special Assignment (TSA) program at Acceleration High Schools or those requested by school sites.
All these factors complicated the situation and delayed the determination of how many resource specialists would be assigned and where. No Resource Specialists lost their jobs, although there were more reassignments than usual. We recognize that the timing of the notice was inconveniencing and we apologize for not being able to inform staff earlier, but extenuating circumstances—particularly the high level of movement of students among sites—prevented an earlier determination. Where feasible, assignment changes have been made based on new information and we will continue to make adjustments as necessary once schools open and enrollment numbers solidify.
The 2012-13 PEC budget is level with funding for the 2011-12 school year and the reassignment process was not driven by budget cuts or programmatic restructuring. However, given the drop in the number of students requiring Resource Specialist services and the large increase in the number of students in Special Day Classes, we adjusted staffing to meet student need.
Given the emphasis on numbers, I expected the memo to contain some projections. What does “dramatic” mean, and how have these numbers trended in recent years? I’ve requested the figures and will report back when they’ve come in.