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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Aug 25, 2016 Detroit Public Schools Special Ed Enrollment, Water Shut Off and Foreclosures

August 25, 2016 by Aurora Harris. As a concerned parent of a loved on with Autism; a Special Education Advocate for parents in Detroit, Michigan; and a co-founder of We The People of Detroit (https://wethepeopleofdetroit.com/), I have been concerned with the quality of education special needs students have been receiving. Since Detroit Public Schools were placed under Emergency Managers, beginning with Robert Bobb, I have continued independently researching and writing about special education (or the lack of) in the DPS, EAA (Education Achievement Authority, a State system for low performing schools) and Charter Schools. There are several questions I am attempting to answer: What will happen to Detroit's students with special needs in general ed, EAA, and charter schools that are closing? What schools will they be transferred to when their school closes? Will they receive the FAPE ( Free and Appropriate Public Education) they need as mandated by IEP's, IDEA, and Section 504 or will they continue to suffer from cutbacks in resources, accommodations, and lack of qualified teachers? How many parents will experience discrimination when attempting to enroll a child with special needs in charters? Which schools are students with special needs experiencing overcrowding in? What exactly is funding to educate students with special needs in general ed, charter, and centerbased schools being spent on? When a child transfers or drops out, does the Emergency Manager and administration ensure the funds follow the student, and in the case of drop out, do they misappropriate the funding (spend it on other things) instead of returning it to the Feds or State? Where does the special education funding go when a school is permanently closed down? Finally, how many special needs students are and will be affected by school closures, water shut off and foreclosure in the city of Detroit? Some of my questions come from the inability to find detailed spending reports concerning special education in Detroit while under Emergency Managers from Robert Bobb to Judge Rhodes, and the refusal of majority legislators in Lansing refusing requests by Detroit legislators to have a forensic audit done for DPS while it was under emergency managers. The final question is related to a recent water shut off mapping study called Mapping the Water Crisis: The Dismantling of African American Neighborhoods in Detroit" by the We The People of Detroit Community Research Collective. We The People of Detroit is a local non-profit, that I am a co-founder of. Last week, I received an eight page report on proposed school closings in the Detroit Public Schools District beginning in September 2016 (in two weeks). As some of you may have learned from my last blog entry, the Detroit Public Schools website changed and much of the information pertaining to the "old" district cannot be found. As usual, I have been continuing my research on the number of Special Education students in the Detroit School District (DPS and the new Community Schools District) that may be affected by school closures, the type of education and resources they will receive, and funding sources for Special Education in Detroit. As an advocate, parents asked me if they can enroll their child with special needs in a charter school or they have told me that charter schools in Detroit have told them they "are full" when the parent attempts to enroll their child. In response to those parents, I have told them that in the State of Michigan, according to federal law, all schools, including charters, must provide Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and charters cannot deny enrollment because the student has a disability. When parents told me that a charter school told them they are "full," meaning they are at full enrollment capacity and cannot accept the student with a disability, it reminds me of the discrimination by charter schools that took place in New Orleans, where complaints were filed and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the parents when they found the charters were discriminating against the students. See an article by the Southern Poverty Law Center here: https://www.splcenter.org/news/2010/07/28/children-disabilities-face-discrimination-new-orleans-schools. In connecting the dots between New Orleans and Detroit, news sources in the past compared the closing of schools in Detroit to New Orleans, where New Orleans' schools were destroyed and closed down by Hurricane Katrina (a natural disaster). The truth is the City of Detroit and Detroit Public Schools has not experienced a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina. Detroit Public Schools were and still are being destroyed and closed down by Emergency Managers continually creating economic disaster by increasing the school district's debt, and upholding polices and mandates that allowed for more charters schools to open. An article by the Metro Times covered the increase in debt after six years of Emergency Managers: http://www.metrotimes.com/detroit/after-six-years-and-four-state-appointed-managers-detroit-public-schools-debt-is-deeper-than-ever/Content?oid=2302010 Today I discovered two reports by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The first report supports what I have told parents. The first report dated March 30, 2012 is "Special Education Enrollment: Traditional Public Schools vs Charter Schools" ( http://crcmich.org/special-education-enrollment-traditional-public-schools-vs-charter-schools/# ) discusses the mistaken belief that charter schools can have a selective enrollment process and explains why they "cannot categorically deny enrollment." The second report, "Public School Enrollment Trends in Detroit Memo 1141, June 2016" provides details on the trends in enrollment from 2009 through 2016, and, enrollment of Special Education students ( http://crcmich.org/enrollment_trends_detroit-2016/). This report shows an increase in the number of students enrolled in the schools, from 13% to 18%, from the early 2000's to present. It also states that students with special needs are moving slower out of the district when compared with general education students. "Table 4" shows there were almost 4500 students receiving special education from 2011-13. The report also shows differences between Detroit's Special Education enrollment and other districts: "Another difference in DPS’s special education population is that roughly one-half of the disabled students (2,269 FTE of 4,499 FTE) attend one of the six centerbased programs operated by the district. For all other districts and charter schools in Wayne RESA, 44 percent of the disabled student body attend center-based programs located across the ISD.Another part of the report states: "Special education students account for 12.7 percent of Michigan’s (excluding DPS) total public school enrollment in 2015-16, compared to 18.2 percent for DPS. Relative to total enrollment, DPS’s special education population is almost one-third larger than the statewide average.13 While DPS’s special education share has been trending up over the 10-plus years, the opposite has been occurring statewide." The full reports may be downloaded in PDF from the Citizens of Michigan Research Council website at the links indicated above. Regarding special education students, school closure, water shut off and foreclosure, the questions previously stated remain, and, based on the reports I read today, if Detroit Public Schools' total enrollment of special education students is increasing, and half of those students are in 6 centerbased schools (see DPS website map at http://detroitk12.org/admin/academic_affairs/special_education/ ): 1. Banks, Diann Williamson Center 5020 Cadieux Detroit, MI 48224 (313) 347-7280 2. Drew Transition Center 9600 Wyoming Street Detroit, MI 48204-4669 (313) 873-6880 3. Field, Moses 1100 Sheridan Detroit, MI 48214-4220 (313) 866-5790 4. Keidan Special Education Center 4441 Collingwood Detroit, MI 48204 (313) 873-9400 5. Turning Point Academy 12300 Linnhurst St. Detroit, MI 48205-2627 (313) 866-2200 6. White, Jerry L. Center 14804 W. McNichols Detroit, MI 48235 (313) 416-4200 are special education students residing and/or attending schools in areas heaviest hit with water shut off or foreclosure? I believe we can find an approximate number of special needs students affected by looking at the location of school closures, existing schools, and the maps provided by the We The People of Detroit Community Research Collective. A sample of the maps are found here: https://wethepeopleofdetroit.com/communityresearch/. The Fox 2 Detroit News Report on the press conference concerning the community report "Mapping the Water Crisis" can be found here: http://wchbnewsdetroit.newsone.com/3185333/detroit-water-shut-offs-leading-to-more-foreclosures-video/#.V7H8ZjHjOVg.facebook A second publication by We The People of Detroit on education is forthcoming. Whether you are a parent, student, activist, or researcher, I hope you have found this information helpful.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Aug 16, 2016 Detroit Community Schools: What happened to the info on the old DPS website?

I am conducting research on the Detroit Public Schools and discovered when I type in "Detroit Public Schools," in a search engine, the link takes me to a whole new website: http://detroitk12.org/ for the "Detroit Public Schools Community District." This is the "new" district that Detroit legislators had no voice in when protesting the plan for Detroit Schools. See this June 16, 2016 Free Press article by Rochelle Riley: http://www.freep.com/story/news/columnists/rochelle-riley/2016/06/11/legislators-blocked-voices-detroit-dps-funding-fix/85760366/ Where can a researcher find links to past Detroit Board of Education meetings before, during and after Robert Bobb and other emergency managers took over Detroit Public schools? Must a Freedom of Information Act request be filed? I noticed that most news links or links to information concerning DPS before the new district came into existence appears to be inaccessible...web pages don't exist anymore. As an advocate for parents with students with special needs, I feel parents (myself included) and researchers should have access to information concerning public school board meetings led by members we VOTED for! Last week, I attended a meeting of advocates for persons with disabilities, hosted by Isaac Robinson, at the ARC Detroit office. After speaking with another parent, it appears no one knows what is going to happen with the education of Detroit's students with disabilities in the "community" schools. One concern that other parent advocates and I have is no one knows if a new plan for Special Education has been created. After speaking to parents since June, many were unaware of "community schools" "community" meetings and feel they were left out of most meetings where concerns with Special Education could have been addressed. In essence, the ongoing concerns regarding students with special needs in the "old" and "new" districts, along with EAA schools will remain unaddressed and parents will be silenced as usual until they stand up and start raissing questions concerning the future education of their child or children, and//or begin filing lawsuits again. It seems that filing lawsuits against everyone but the Emergency Manager and the Governor are the only recourse a parent has since the Emergency Manager and the Governor are exempt from legal action, which means most civil rights complaints that name the Governor or Emergency Manager from doing harm to students in the district, will be thrown out. This article from the Democracy Tree, addresses the immunity of Emergency Managers in Michigan: http://www.democracy-tree.com/michigan-house-bills-strip-emergency-managers-immunity/

Friday, June 24, 2016

June 24, 2016 Detroit Public Schools News: No Democracy-What Will Happen to DPS' Students with Special Needs?

In the past month, there has been much news concerning the fate of Detroit Public Schools. From the House and Senate Bills to Detroit law makers not being allowed to speak in Lansing during the hearings or decision making session is a "slap in the face" as one Democrat from Detroit stated, to the "Detroit Community Schools" new district plan, as an advocate for parents with students with special needs, I'm here to say NOTHING has been discussed with parents of students with special needs about the education and fate of of those students in the "old" or "new" planned DPS District, by those who wish to "rule" over or emergency manage Detroit Public Schools. As in the past, I'm sure there will be another lawsuit or Office of Civil Rights Complaints to be filed by concerned parents. The Republicans refused the Democrats's request to have a forensic audit. They voted against it. There are videos from the Michigan Democratic Party Facebook page that shows how Detroit Democrats feel after being silenced. See all videos that show what happens to Democrats, Detroit and Highland Park MI in Lansing sessions here: https://www.facebook.com/MichiganSenateDemocrats/

Sunday, July 5, 2015

In Detroit: American Disability Act Legacy Project /Tour July 21, 2015

ADA Legacy Project/Tour -­ Americans With Disability Legacy Tour -­ Michigan Detroit, MI www.adamichigan.wordpress.com PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Susan Fitzmaurice, susan@disabilitysavvy.com, 248-­767-­2217 Loren Glover, LorenGlover@ymail.com, 313-­831-­0202 Brooke Blackwell, bblackwell@dwmha.com, 313-­580-­2101 ____________________________________________________________________________ Americans with Disability Act (ADA) 25th Anniversary Celebration in Detroit -­ July 21, 2015 ADA Legacy Tour Bus comes to Detroit Eastern Market ____________________________________________________________________________ July 2015 marks the 25th Anniversary of the groundbreaking passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the United States civil rights legislation that protects and addresses the diverse rights of people with disabilities-­-­the world's first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities. To commemorate this Anniversary, the national ADA Legacy Tour, (http://adalegacy.org/), a two year-­long, cross-­country traveling education exhibit and "Road to Freedom" Bus will be at Detroit Eastern Market, Shed 3 on July 21st from 9:30am to 3:00pm to raise awareness and educate the public about the ADA, disability rights and advocacy. The Detroit community is honored to be selected as one of the hosts for the ADA Legacy Tour as it heads to Washington D.C. for the July 26 National ADA Celebration and Parade. We are equally honored that The Honorable John D. Dingell, Member of Congress 1955-­ 2015, one of the sponsors of the original ADA legislation, will be the distinguished speaker at the event at Eastern Market. With the passage of the ADA in 1990, Congressman Dingell declared, “Enactment of this landmark legislation opens the doors of opportunity to millions of Americans with disabilities who will be able to realize their highest hopes, ambitions and dreams.” Other highlights include Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Circuit Court Judge Deborah Thomas, Ms. Wheelchair Michigan Kristen Milefchik, former MSU Basketball player Anthony Ianni, Human Rights Activist Elizabeth Bauer, Paralympian Winner & Wheelchair dancer Cheryl Angelelli, Tom Olin's iconic photographs of the disability rights movement, the Matrix Theatre Company's Justin Dart Hero Puppet, Kuungana African Drums, wheelchair dancing, performances by Wild Swan Theatre, with a deaf and hearing cast, music, photo booth, many interactive activities, face painting, and recording and telling of your own story. Come celebrate and commemorate the civil rights legislation, the ADA in the "D”. The Legacy Tour Bus and events are a momentous opportunity for ALL people, young and old, disabled and non-­disabled to celebrate the sweeping disability activism, to enjoy accessible activities, education and entertainment-­-­-­all of which are FREE, fun, enriching, and fuel us to continue our work to create a world where everyone is intentionally welcomed and included. Media interviews with speakers and persons who have been impacted by the ADA can be arranged. "Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down." George H. W. Bush, July 26, 1990 at the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act -- -- Rich Feldman 248-225-8037 @rfeldman60

Sunday, August 4, 2013

New Orleans Special Education Lawsuit

After three years of comparing the lack of special education services in New Orleans to what is happening in Detroit (related to the New Orleans "model" of the destruction of public education and the installation of an increase in charter schools), I finally discovered the New Orleans case regarding discrimination by charter schools towards special education students. The complaint can be downloaded in pdf from the Lawyers Committee site below. http://www.lawyerscommittee.org/newsroom/press_releases?id=0116

Disability Museum Info

Check out this interesting site on the Disability Museum. http://museumofdisability.org/

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

ADD/ADHD and 504 Plans In MI

Good Evening, I received a call requesting information on ADD/ADHD and 504 Plans. In Michigan, click on links to get more information: http://www.resa.net/specialeducation/section504/ Michigan Protection And Advocacy Service(MPAS) http://mpas.org/ ADHD Info at Wrights Law: http://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=25 and http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/add.index.htm