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    Posted April 23, 2014 by
    Porter Ranch, California
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    Keeping The Light On

    “Light It Up Blue Day” is a reminder that children on the Autism spectrum need our help throughout the year.
    By Carl Petersen
    This morning I presented the following statement to the sitting Board of Education of the LAUSD in response to their proposed resolution to recognize Autism Awareness Month:

    I am a father of five and have two daughters who are on the Autism spectrum. ‘Light It Up Blue’ is designed to bring awareness to challenges faced by my daughters and others on the spectrum. This day actually took place on April 2, so I am a little confused as to why you are only voting on this now, but I guess it is better late than never.

    The resolution that you have before you is a good start as it at least shows that you have an awareness of the problem. Unfortunately, it does not even have the correct statistics as a report released last month by the CDC says that the prevalence of Autism is now 1 in 68. (2) These children are depending on you to back up your words with actions.

    The district currently has an adversarial relationship with the parents of special education students. It is my personal experience that LAUSD staff at the school level are instructed to not approve any special requests during the IEP process. Therefore, to get the programs that our children need to have any hope at success we must hire a lawyer and appeal to the bureaucracy downtown. Then, if we are successful during the mediation process, the district will only sign the agreement if we agree to a confidentiality clause. This prevents us from talking to other parents and telling them what programs are available. Such clauses are not in the best interests of the students.

    For those parents whose children are not in special education programs, this issue still affects them. First, there is the cost of an army of bureaucrats whose purpose is to deny children the services that they need. Second, if the district loses the case in court they must also reimburse the families for their legal fees. I think that it would be better to empower the school level staff to negotiate agreements at the beginning of the process. The money saved would be much better spent on actually educating all of our students and providing them with the services that they need.

    Last year I went through the appeals process for both of my daughters. It was such a frustrating experience that it motivated me to run for the District 3 seat in next year’s election. This would not have happened if the board had conducted themselves in accordance with the words contained in this resolution. I urge you to remember your words after Autism Awareness month is over as you need to prove that you are “committed to providing high quality intervention and support services for our children identified as having Autism.” (2)
    I am running for the District 3 seat on the LAUSD School Board.
    You can follow my campaign at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ChangeTheLAUSD/ or on https://twitter.com/ChangeTheLAUSD.
    I welcome your personal correspondence at changethelausd@gmail.com.
    (1) http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/latest-autism-statistics-2/
    (2) http://laschoolboard.org/sites/default/files/04-22-14RegBdOBCSREVISED.pdf
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