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Letter: Parent of Special Needs Students Pens Letter to School Board

Apr 26, 2015 08:04PM ● Published by Steven Jack

As a parent of a Special Needs student I have many questions and concerns regarding the proposed withdrawal of SD 308 from KCSEC.  I am attaching Procedural Guidance for School Districts Withdrawing From A Special Education Joint Agreement Formed Under 105 ILCS 5/10-22.31 

I hope you are making a fully informed vote.

My first question is have you seen the Comprehensive Plan addressing all the state mandated requirements that must be filed with ISBE before any withdrawal can be approved?  This plan is required to be submitted and approved before SD 308 can obtain any federal special Ed funding.  The state recommends submitting the completed plan prior to or concurrent to the submission of the petition to withdraw.  When was the plan submitted?  Where is the Plan?

My next question is were you informed that according to the School Code that any district withdrawing from a special education co-operative has no rights or claim to any of the assets or funds of the co-operative?  The only possible exception under the law, is for personal property (like an IPAD) used exclusively by a student enrolled in SD 308 and that SD 308 has previously reimbursed KCSEC for said personal property.  So the grant money does not go to 308.  This is state law and is not subject to negotiation.

Liabilities are another whole story.  Were you informed that if SD 308 withdraws from KCSEC that your proportional share of all KCSEC liabilities incurred before the withdrawal are still your legal debts until such time as the debt is retired and paid in full?  Since SD 308 comprises more than 60% of KCSEC, you are liable for more than 60% of all KCSEC liabilities.  The liabilities include any liabilities incurred by KCSEC.  How much liability are you voting to take on?  Are you aware that the KCSEC has chosen to pay large penalties to avoid offering even minimal health care coverage to all paraprofessionals as required under The Affordable Care Act?  Your proportional share is huge!  How many years are left on the mortgage or any other liabilities currently on the books?  You will be required to pay your proportional share every year until all the debt is paid in full.  So I ask again, how much liability are you committing to if you vote for withdrawal?

My next question is are you aware that the School Code requires that SD 308 directly involve Special Needs parents in the educational planning process?  Merely informing parents of your plans does not satisfy your legal obligations.  Parental input is way more than a few post-its on a wall.  SD 308 is nowhere near compliance.  Special Needs parents will be just as vocal as Dual Language parents if you attempt to ignore our input.  There are state and federal laws,  as well as civil rights at play here.  Are you willing to take on the massive financial and legal penalties that you will incur if our rights are violated?

My next question is were you informed that if SD 308 chooses a reduction of services instead of a withdrawal you still have to request this change in writing to ISBE and that you and any other affected district within KCSEC must complete and obtain approval for a new Comprehensive Plan?  No plans means no federal funds.  Any reduction in services must be approved both by ISBE and the KCSEC Governing Board.  Again, this is all covered under state law.

My last questions concern the timing of this vote.  There has been no chance for taxpayers or parents to review the Plan  (does it even exist?)  and weigh in on such a huge decision.  Why are you voting before allowing us to see the Plan?  Are you voting without seeing the Plan?  How can you vote in good conscience if you cannot answer these questions?  Will this be the legacy of this board?  The lack of transparency and information is appalling.  So I ask one more time: are you making a fully informed vote?

Thank you for listening to my concerns,

Helen Kavlock

Education, Today, Opinion

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