FIRST, THANK YOU TO ALL THE PARENTS, CONCERNED CITIZENS, AND DPS BUS AIDES THAT WENT TO LANSING TO SPEAK TO THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION!
I was one of the parents that went to Lansing on January 11, 2010 to address violoations with Special Education as a result of being under Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb. This blog entry is an example of positive results that can happen when parents and concerned citizens work together to advocate for special needs children. We had two victories within three days: 1. a lawsuit to stop the layoff of bus aides, 2. The layoffs were rescinded, and 3. Newspaper coverage of real issues with special education in Detroit as a result of being under EMF Robert Bobb. My family and friends were excited that I was mentioned in the Michigan Citizen article below. Please help Detroit Parents with Special Ed Students get these stories out by sending them to your email lists, independent news sources, and other bloggers.
Yesterday, I received news that the layoff of DPS bus aides was rescinded by Robert Bobb after a parent filed a lawsuit in Federal court on behalf of her child with autism. According to the Dettoit News article, the family's lawyer stated the aids are on the buses because we receive federal funds. Click here to see the article: http://www.detnews.com/article/20110114/SCHOOLS/101140382/1026/schools/Layoff-of-DPS-bus-attendants-halted
Later in the afternoon, I received a recorded message from the Detroit Public Schools Chief of Police stating that a new security system was installed at the schools to run background checks on everyone entering the school. When I called other parents who went to Lansing on January 11, to see if they received the recorded mes sage, they said "No." Since we stated in Lansing that we did not receive prior notification of the security system, the recorded message that I received at 5:38 p.m. from the Main DPS office, is a response from Bobb to address the issue. Parents at the Board meeting had questions like:
1. If the security system is installed in Detroit as a result of a Homeland Security order, then why aren't the rest of the cities, school districts, counties, etcetera, in Michigan AND the UNITED STATES installing the "swipe your drivers license- run a criminal back ground check" system in the schools?
2. If Robert Bobb keeps telling the world that the District is broke, has no funds, where is he getting the money from to purchase the security system, employ the contractors and sub contractors to install them in the schools, and pay the people that are running the background checks, with police working overtime? All of this without notifying the parents or the Board of this expenditure when we are supposed to be saving money.
He doesn't have money for new equipment for a refurbished school that is being turned into a vocational school for special education adults aged 20-26 or get rid of the rats at the existing school or repair doors and windows, but he can install a security system to criminalize parents.
3. What is the name of the company? Where are they located? Are they bonded? What security measures are in place to keep those workers from stealing our identities?
4. What other information is Bobb and Administration collecting from drivers license and State Id in addition to traffic and court records, that are being sold to other contractors? This is called "data mining"... they compile your data and profiles to determine what a target market they market to and any other purpose.
5. Are you going to make public the records that show that the information is scrubbed from the datafiles and computers once the info is scanned?
6. This is against our Constitutional and privacy rights.
At the Board meeting at Brenda Scott Middle School, the bus aides, the security system and the front page stories by Zenobia Jefferies in the Michigan Citizen were the top items of parent discussions. Click this link to see the front page stories on Detroit Public Schools: http://michigancitizen.com/index1.htm The front page article begins with this:
By Zenobia JeffriesThe Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — Short of a formal investigation, Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan has begun looking into parents’ and community concerns about alleged special education violations in Detroit Public Schools.
Over 50 parents, bus attendants for special education students and community members, including state lawmakers from Detroit, attended the first State Board of Education meeting of the year held Jan. 11 in Lansing. During public comments Detroiters spoke to what they called the destruction and dismantling of DPS in general and special education in particular. "
The report below is what I read to the members of the State Board of Education on January 11, 2010. Other parents and concerned citizens voiced their complaints and the State Board called for an investigation of IEP violations. 52 parents rode to Lansing to request that the special ed bus aid layoff / firings is rescinded.
Please see the following and the document attached to circulate to the public. The meeting was televised by Live Feed yesterday. Perhaps someone can find a copy of the feed at mich.gov/sbe
January 11, 2010 Report to the State Board by Aurora Harris-Member of DPS Special Ed Wayne-RESA PAC
To: All Members of the Michigan State Board of Education, Michigan Department of Education Superintendent Michael P. Flanagan
Re: Detroit Michigan’s Parent Concerns and Complaints About DPS Special Education
From: Concerned Parents of Special Ed students in Detroit Public Schools. Contact Carolyn Carter-LSCO Chair at 313 739-7647
1. TRANSPORTATION Safety issues: We are requesting that the layoffs and firings of special education bus attendants are rescinded immediately. We feel that this is a manipulation of the IEP, whereby many of us for up to 20 years have never been asked or told to write that we need a bus attendant for transportation. No notification was given to parents. Robert Bobb wants to save 2 million dollars by placing our children in harms way and treating 5000-7000 special needs students as if their lives are an expendable $400.00
2. There are no bilingual translators at the Welcome Center, in Administration, in schools for enrollment, or at the bus terminals to service non-English speaking students or parents when emergencies arise. We are requesting a bi-lingual emergency hotline and bi-lingual staff and resource persons be reinstated. There is no one to service the blind and hearing impaired. Resources like OT, PT and speech are eliminated. Many parents, principals, and teachers are not aware of the changes to the IEP and have not been trained on the removal of parental consent, the amendment form, and the revocation form. Parents are providing information to the principals and teachers. If we do not have a superintendent for Special Ed, are we to send our amendment forms to State Board of Ed members and Mike Flanagan to sign?
3. Robert Bobb did not inform the parents, the public, or the DPS Board that he has installed a new security system in the schools that scans drivers license and personal information is given to company to run criminal background checks. Two parents have been arrested since January 3, 2010. Parents feel this is a violation of our Constitutional rights and privacy. We are requesting that the State Board of Education provide the parents of the copy of the order or mandate from Homeland Security that Robert Bobb referred to at the January 8, 2010 DPS Board meeting. Parents that refuse to give there license or ID to strangers for scanning are not allowed to enter the building.
4. Why is the Detroit Public schools district targeted as a proving ground for blatant discrimination against special needs students and used to test how many IEP’s can be violated without parents knowledge; how many Federal Laws and IDEA Law can be broken, including the destruction or elimination of Special Education?
5. Who is running our Special Ed department? Several requests for an organizational flow chart are ignored. The DPS website is an example of discrimination under Civil Rights, 504, ADA, and IDEA. Virtually everything on the website concerning special ed is either nonworking, nonexistent, or obsolete.
6. We have requested an accounting of special ed funds that the district received and who is spending it, and what it is spent on, and have been ignored. We want to know who is controlling special ed funds for parent involvement. What is the policy and process for parents to utilize the funds?
7. We would like a full investigation by the Department of Justice, The IRS, and the FBI of all persons, consultants, and companies receiving and spending federal funds for Special Education and Title 1. We request a full audit, and full public report of all Federal funds coming to the District, how the funds were spent, the names of the consultants and companies that were paid.
8. The DTC East vocational school is infested with rats, has 16 doors that need repair, has ADA violations. Parents have not been given any description of the curriculums. Why do we have a Michigan Rehab office in our school that is allowed to hold our students back to age 25, then send them out for training?
9. Why did Robert Bobb cancel the liability insurance on the vocational special needs adults that prevents them from getting vocational training and skills in the community? Why are our children forced to remain in ADA violated and unsafe buildings until the other school is refurbished. We need someone to talk to immediately about this and other concerns.
10. When parents report issues, they are targeted or threatened. If they try to assist, they are told ‘its causing problems.”