September 13, 2011: Over the last year, CCSA and Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) members have made great strides toward the positive change of special education in charter schools; from the addition of new options within the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA), to training and access to information and resources that will contribute to the increased continuum of services available to students in charter schools. A two-day summit "Charters Taking the Lead on Special Education: Practical Ideas, Actively Taught," was a demonstration of the significant impact of these changes in LAUSD.
One of the great themes of the weekend was to demonstrate that special education is no longer a "place" but rather the practices of using data to inform instruction across all students, regardless of label or special need. This theme carried throughout the conference. The Summit had more than 800 registered participants including both special education and general education teachers, speech therapists, resources specialists, administrators, executive directors, and board members representing 130 charter schools in LAUSD.
Over the course of the event, there were four general sessions with keynote speakers Judy Elliott, assistant superintendent at LAUSD, and Steven Kukic from Cambien Learning Group. Additionally, there were 32 breakout sessions that ranged from instructional practices to technology uses in the classroom, to leadership practices and legal support. There was also a strand designed specifically for parents.
"We walked out of the conference with a greater sense of unity and hope for special education in Los Angeles," said Gina Plate, who is CCSA's senior advisor, Special Education. "This workshop is another step towards building capacity within our schools so charters can take special education to the next level."
Charter leaders and staff were enthusiastic about the new school year, and eager to put into practice what they learned. The partnerships that have been created are the first step in highlighting how the charter movement will make a true impact on how special education is approached in California.