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Elk Grove Unified School District makes changes to “inclusive education”

Last week the Elk Grove Unified School District notified teachers of changes to the inclusive education program. That led to several posts on social media from affected staff and parents who were upset at the changes.

On Monday the district sent an email to parents that was supposed to be for staff. The district sent out a second email apologizing for the first email.

Here is the second email that was sent out

Dear EGUSD Parents,

Please accept our apologies for any confusion regarding the letter that you may have received as an EGUSD parent and was intended for staff only titled, “Special Education Teacher Assignments”. Please discard this message.

We have sent a communication in a separate parent letter to the parents for whom the specific changes would be relevant via a unique list.

Thank you for your understanding.

EGUSD Communications

August 29, 2022

This is the first email that was sent out

Dear Staff,

The purpose of this communication is to provide you with an update regarding the assignment of highly qualified and credentialed teachers, who have experience as inclusion specialists, to teach special education classes.  The Elk Grove Unified School District is committed to inclusive education and serving all students in the least restrictive environment. The District is also committed to exploring and designing new inclusive education strategies that will make the most efficient use of existing resources to ensure that every child has access to a free and appropriate educational program.

We also recognize the emotional aspect of this for our staff as many have become closely connected to students and families. We realize that change can be difficult yet, at the same time, this change is necessary. We are confident, after deep consideration of different scenarios, that this is the best way forward to remain committed to providing and further expanding our inclusive education services.

Due to the combined factors of increased numbers of students requiring special education services and the national and local teaching shortage, the District started the school year with vacancies in both general education and special education classrooms and Learning Centers.  To fill Special Education classroom positions with highly qualified and credentialed teachers, teachers formerly serving as inclusion specialists are in the process of being assigned to self-contained classroom and Learning Center/RSP assignments.

When this transition is complete, nearly all of our self-contained classrooms, Learning Centers, and Resource programs at our sites will be fully staffed. The impact on existing special education staff will vary based on whether you work in Elementary Education (Learning Center) or Secondary Education (RSP):

Elementary Learning Centers

Case Management: Caseloads have been adjusted and in several instances reduced to accommodate this transition in case management.  Students who may require inclusive education case management support will be assigned to the caseloads of Learning Center teachers. In addition, any case manager needing assistance with an inclusive matter will receive assistance from either a Special Education Support Teacher (Teacher on Special Assignment), who formerly served as an inclusion specialist, a Program Specialist, or a Coordinator.

The new class assignments for the inclusion specialists will be finalized by Wednesday, August 31st at 5PM.  Commencing Thursday, September 1, the site administration, with assistance from Special Education, will be making adjustments to caseload assignments. 

Parent/Guardian Notification: Our Special Education Department will be sending out a communication to all parents/guardians, who may be assigned a new case manager, the week of August 29.  Parents/ guardians will be notified of new case manager assignments by Thursday, September 8.  We will ask the new case managers to contact parents/guardians, and if assistance is needed, the Special Education Department can provide support.

Paraeducator assignments, training, consultation:  Depending on the impact to the Learning Center based on the number of students, some sites will need to re-evaluate current direct service schedules to allow time for Learning Center teachers to consult with paraeducators, classroom teachers and to observe students.  Currently, every Learning Center teacher’s caseload falls below 24, with many in the high teens.  With the transition of inclusion specialists to the Learning Centers, the need to overload teachers has been eliminated at this time.  Furthermore, with all of the Special Education positions filled with highly qualified staff, the District is better equipped to address leaves of absences with the long term substitutes who are currently covering vacancies.  Please know that site administration, Special Education Support Teachers (TOSA), Program Specialists, and Coordinators will be prioritizing support for this transition in the Learning Centers.

Secondary RSP

Case management:  Teachers serving in the role of inclusion specialists have not performed the function of case management.  Caseload assignments will remain the same in Secondary Education.  Sites that will have teachers formerly serving as inclusion specialists joining their RSP teams may choose to allocate students to these team members.  The numbers of students may vary significantly, from zero (0) at one site to twenty-five (25) and twenty-six (26) students at two comprehensive high schools, respectively. Each of these two comprehensive high schools will be gaining an RSP teacher who has been serving as an inclusion specialist.

Parent/Guardian Notification:  As noted above under Elementary Learning Centers, the Special Education Department will be sending out a communication to all parents/guardians who will be assigned new case managers the week of August 29th.  There might not be any changes to RSP case manager assignments in Secondary, with the exception of site adjustments due to the addition of new team members.  We will ask the new case managers to contact parents/ guardians, and if assistance is needed, the Special Education Department can provide support.

Paraeducator assignments, training, consultation:  With the addition of the teachers who have been serving as inclusion specialists to Secondary Education sites, approximately 9.0FTE of vacancies that now exist in RSP will be staffed with highly qualified teachers.  The need for teacher overloads has been eliminated. The District has maintained approximately 50% of the contractual day for RSP teachers in Secondary for consultation responsibilities.  We will strive to continue to meet the needs of students as we have been, and if a site requires additional support, the site administration, Special Education Support Teachers (TOSA), Program Specialists, and Coordinators will work together to provide assistance.  

Transition Monitoring and IEPs

The District will be monitoring this transition carefully and providing additional support to specific sites or situations, as needed.  We understand that some of these transitions might require IEP meetings, and if assistance is required, a member of the Special Education team will work with you and your site administrative team on your specific caseload.

The District regrets the timing of this necessary transition; however, the assignment of highly qualified teachers to special education classrooms and to other support roles will more effectively meet the needs of our students.

During this current school year, the District will be engaged in collaborations and will solicit input from all staff as well as parents/ guardians in an effort to strengthen and expand our support of inclusive education.

Sincerely,

David Reilly
Associate Superintendent

Anne Rigali
Director, Special Education/ SELPA

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