Natomas Candidates’ Priorities For Special Needs Kids


THE NATOMAS BUZZ asked the six candidates for school board the following question submitted by the parent of a special needs child who will enter kindergarten next year: “What do you think should be done to make sure our kids with special needs aren’t lost and forgotten with the budget cuts and larger classes?” Here are the answers we received, in the order they were submitted. Click here for previous entries in this series.

Students with special education needs defined in Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) will absolutely continue to receive the services that the IEP promises pursuant to federal and state law.  Unfortunately, the state formula for funding these programs is based on a year when Natomas was very small and so we are forced to supplement these services with general funds, but we will remain committed to the students and in compliance with the law.  

Most of the “consultant” funds in our budget are use to pay for the specialized services that special needs students require.  In larger districts like Los Angeles, there are sufficient numbers in special needs categories to employ specialists full time.  In our district it is much more cost efficient to pay for services as needed.

Similarly, students with special needs recognized by 504 plans will be provided those services as indicated in their plans.  We have an administrator in place whose job is specifically to ensure these services are faithfully provided.

The district will still test all children as young 3-years old as requested by parents, physicians or teachers, as required by law, and provide services where indicated.

Students with special academically-gifted needs will continue to be served through our GATE program, which I have fought to continue despite state authorization to flex those funds for other purposes. 

We will continue our commitment to providing services based on student needs.

We absolutely must provide for our children with special needs. For students with special needs, early intervention can dramatically improve outcomes. I will be an ally for families struggling to be heard on this issue. You are not forgotten. I have heard your voices!

I will fight proposed cuts to these programs, and I specifically want to focus on autism. In my door-to-door walks I have heard from many families in the autistic community. I have heard a consistent message from these families: It is very important that we differentiate autism programs from other special education programs.

Autism affects communication, social interaction and sensory development. Although there is no cure for autism yet, early intervention can alleviate certain symptoms. Behavior, sensory and speech therapy can help autistic students relate to the world around them, and ease developmental transitions.

Since children enrolled in special education programs bring in more state and federal money per capita, we must hold our district accountable and make sure that children are appropriately placed into these programs. We must not allow the district to place unqualified children in special education programs just to bring in more funding. We must also adopt a transparent system of budgeting to ensure that special education funds are not diverted to other “projects.”

Accountability is the ultimate solution.  Once we audit our books, cut wasteful spending on administration and adopt a transparent system of budgeting, we will be able to protect the interests of our children with special needs. 


It can be truly scary for a parent of a special needs student to entrust their child to an unfamiliar school and faculty. Many parents fight tremendously hard to get their children qualified for special education while others are just simply unsure of what to expect from the school’s special education or mainstreamed teachers. To ensure that special needs children are not lost or forgotten, I have developed a special needs plan for all special needs children mainstreamed into my class.

First, I always consult with the parent and then the special needs child to get a sense of who they are and how they feel I can best help them be successful. It is important for me not to have any pre-conceived notions.

Next, I consult with the Resource Specialist and review the IEP for any modifications I need to know about. Finally, I personally research the student’s condition to gain the clarity necessary to apply the appropriate modifications.

Besides maintaining constant communications with parents, I create a climate in my class where all students are respectful and helpful to one another regardless of status. I have student volunteers who act as buddies to support my efforts in making the student’s placement meaningful and productive. Parents of special needs children routinely request that their children be mainstreamed into my class.

As a board member I would create policy that provides training for our teachers so they can successfully work with special need students and their parents.

As the President of the Natomas Parent Alliance I have attended several meetings and conferences to support parents and I am no longer surprised to see district incompetence in relation to its special needs population. IEP meetings aren’t timely, schools don’t have the appropriate resources to work with students, key files are lost, and students are mainstreamed into classes where teachers lack the proper training to work with the student. The IEP program functioned so poorly at one school that a parent of a special needs student sued the district and won.

To ensure that all special needs students don’t get lost, I would ensure that all school sites:

  1. Know and have complete records on all special needs students.
  2. Schedule timely organized IEP meetings involving the right personnel.
  3. Monitor and evaluate the case management system.
  4. Develop training programs for staff involved in mainstreaming.
  5. Schedule meetings to educate parents and create parent support networks.
  6. Provide parents with evaluative tools to assess the school.
  7.  Expand the current workability program and adult transitional programs to include more than just Pride Industries.
  8. Spend all budgeted funds (timely) for the special needs children without carryovers or give backs.

I expect Natomas schools to provide each special needs student all of the agreed upon services outlined in their IEPs. Since parents have legal precedence, I would rather resolve all special needs issues at the district and site level rather than in a courtroom.


At a time when education cuts at the state is forcing districts to lay off employees, the education of all our children must be our top priority. More so with our special needs children. I will fight to make sure every parent is guaranteed the right to be part of a team effort in the planning of your special needs child’s educational journey.
Every special needs child in Natomas is entitled by law to a free appropriate education in the least restrictive environment that is tailored to their specific unique needs.

I will lead the district in ensuring that the transportation, specialists to assist the individual needs of each child, and any in home support services are provided for our special needs children, despite the 27% cut in state funding Natomas has taken. To accomplish this, I pledge to retain the money entitled “consultants” Natomas has in our budget as a continued budget item to retain the special needs consultants and therapist we hire for our special needs children.

As your board member, I vow every parent access, to having their child assessed or tested to determine special education eligibility and needs; the ability to inspect and review school records; an annual “individualized education program”  meeting with the District and a written IEP plan, and the ability to resolve disputes with the school district through an impartial administrative and legal process.
Our kids come first. I will continue fighting to make sure Natomas does just that.

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