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Changes to Special Education focus on better quality instruction, serving more students across district

Changes to Special Education focus on better quality instruction, serving more students across district
Posted on 02/13/2017

San Diego Unified School District

In order to ensure that students have access to quality instruction, opportunities for peer interaction and social development, and are able to engage as a member of a robust classroom community, the district has announced that some elementary school and K-8 moderate-severe classrooms will be combined into neighborhood cluster classrooms beginning with the 2017-2018 school year.

Of the approximately 15,000 students with disabilities served by San Diego Unified, this change will only impact approximately 220 students. The district is offering assistance to all families impacted by the changes to ensure a smooth transition.

The decision to combine classrooms into neighborhood clusters was based on several factors. The most significant was the under enrollment of many elementary/K-8 moderate-severe classes, which is contrary to best practice recommendations. Rather than providing opportunities for peer interaction, language development and classroom community, these very small classrooms instead create very restrictive learning environments. In restrictive settings, the opportunities for students to learn important life and classroom skills that will generalize to other areas become very limited.

As the district prepares for these changes, neighborhood classrooms have been designated within the already established school cluster patterns. Students will continue to matriculate through the same middle and high schools that are part of their existing neighborhood cluster feeder pattern.

Through the IEP process, families and staff will work together to thoughtfully consider individual student needs during this process. All services the students receive will remain the same; just the locations at which they receive instruction will change.

In addition to the changes for Elementary/K-8 moderate-severe classroom locations, two of the district's high school programs will also be relocated for the 17-18 school year.

The Successful Transitions Achieved Through Responsive Support (STARS) program currently located on the Clairemont High School campus will relocate to the Serra High School campus beginning in 2017-2018. This move will allow the high school sections of the STARS program to serve a more geographically broad area of our community, expanding and facilitating access for families.

Additionally, Marcy School, which has operated as a separate school facility, will relocate its services to the Clairemont High School campus, allowing students to attend school on a comprehensive facility rather than a separate setting. Other STARS program locations will not be impacted.

The district remains committed to ensuring students participate in a class (or classes) that offers high- quality instruction by a well-supported teacher with access to appropriate, grade-level curriculum, technology, and enrichment activities.

If parents have any questions or concerns, they should contact the Special Education department.