Monthly Archives: December 2018

Comments Off on Update from Pacer Hogging Millions of Dollars in Public Funds from State and Federal Agencies

Alright – so, every since Pacer told me to take a flying leap and did not help me when I needed an advocate after Bloomington Public Schools suspended my child who has nonverbal autism for having a behavior the school caused. As I have said before, my kid has no idea what suspension is nor can comprehend the behavior he had. Additionally, autism is a behavior disorder and individuals with any disability should not be punished for their disability.

Anyway, after Pacer’s advocate refused to help me, I tried to find out any minority owned or run advocacy agencies. To my surprise there were none funded by any state or federal agency even though there are millions of dollars available to help autism families as well as other families who have children with a disability. To make a long story short and as I have blogged about my experience, I have been trying to find out why and who is getting all or at least most of the advocacy funds. It turns out Pacer has been getting it for years without competition from anyone including even any mainstream agency. I know what the heck?

The advocate in me kicked in and I wanted to know how is this possible, why and what can be done about it. I have some good news on this.

The Minnesota Department of Education’s assistant Commissioner sent me below email which I am happy about because it looks like MDE will finally stop giving all of this money to Pacer without any accountability.

Hi Idil,

Tom and Robyn shared your questions and concerns with me. Below is more information from Tom on the PACER grants. PACER is currently in year four of a five year grant. The next time we do the statewide parent training grant, we will open it up for a grant competition rather than having it be sole source with PACER. We will also add more explicit language in the Request for Proposal that the grantee will have to work with a minority run agency regarding outreach, communications and training for culturally diverse families.


Daron Korte

Assistant Commissioner

Below is the information I received from the state education department (MDE) when I asked how does MDE ensure equity and equality towards communities and families of color are being served.

The PACER Parent Training Grant from the State of Minnesota began in 2015. It is a five year grant. The PACER Center Parent Training Grant is in its fifth year. To date, $1,081,170 has been paid through the grant to PACER since the beginning date of the grant in 2015. There was never an MDE decision that PACER is or is not required to partner with community organizations. Below are other grantees but as you can see Pacer clearly takes the bulk of the money. 

All 13 of the grants that the Minnesota Department of Education makes from the federal special education funds granted to the State of Minnesota are managed by the Minnesota Department of Education. Federal special education grants to states are provided based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. The 13 grants were awarded to:

  • Metro Educational Cooperative Services Unit (two 5-year grants, one 2-year grant, $1,135,700/year)
  • PACER Center (5-year grant, $400,000/year)
  • Southwest West Central Service Cooperative (5-year grant, $198,000/year)
  • Benton Stearns Education District (5-year grant, $198,000/year)
  • North St. Paul – Maplewood – Oakdale Public Schools (5-year grant, $20,000/year)
  • St. Cloud Public Schools (5-year grant, $20,000/year)
  • University of Minnesota (3-year grant, $50,000/year)
  • Rosemount – Apple Valley – Eagan Schools (2-year grant, $50,000/year)
  • Princeton Public Schools (2-year grant, $50,000/year)
  • Northfield Public Schools (2-year grant, $50,000/year)
  • Spring Grove Public Schools (2-year grant, $50,000/year)

In this grant, Pacer was also solely awarded $75,000 annually to built capacity. Let’s think about this word “capacity”. I have seen so many minority advocacy agencies who were told “they did not get the grant because they did not have the capacity”. By the same token, the state education department was giving thousands of dollars to Pacer (a Caucasian owned advocacy agency) to build capacity. How do you like them apples?

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is how inequality and disparity is created and our own state education department has been doing it for years.

While, above information from MDE is clearly upsetting, we can now have the opportunity to at least be in the competition. I think this is a good idea and I hope minority advocacy agencies apply. I also hope they first learn more about this funding, its requirements and what the process is so that they are ready when it comes up.

Above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee.

Idil – Autism Mom

Comments Off on Minnesota State Senator Abeler’s Autism Council Getting a Bit More Diverse Slowly

Alright – so, Sen Abeler’s autism council working group met today for the second time. I was there and I sooooo don’t want to be going to this and won’t have to if they had more people that looked like me.

Anyway, they added a few more members from minority communities. Still missing from this table is a minority autism therapy agency representative, an African American autism parent and a native American parent. Now, the question is why is there only one minority person for each under-served community but there are countless caucasian advocates, agencies, autistics, researchers, etc.?

Have you heard of the saying “when they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Abeler in a typical Abeler way took all of the faults of not having enough diverse folks. He said to not blame them for anything. Obviously, Abeler is just being nice because we all know the first three (Rohde, Bender and Grassie) did all of the selecting of other members. I will say it is getting better though not perfect and still too white for my taste.

Today, they talked a lot about creating subgroups which I think is a good idea. They also said equity and equality a lot and I think at least from the chair’s (Ellie) body language – she may actually mean what she was reading. As a black autism mom, I learned a long time ago to read their body language and not always what they say.

I heard after I left the meeting which I apparently pissed some of the autistic advocates when I was talking about how tired and exhausting autism is, that they made the only Somali (Deeqa) there today really hurt and sad. First, that is cowardly – if you got something to say to anyone say it to them, not behind their back. Second, I am a public autism mom and this council does not control my views or opinions – period. Third, their backstabbing only proves my point of how selfish and self-righteous so many (not all) of them are.

Finally, I want to address the vice chair’s (Ms. Edwards) comment to me when I tried to apologize not what I said but how she literal she understood it. Again, I am sorry how you misunderstood my words. Somalis use a lot of metaphoric phrases and words which is in our culture, Therefore, I do not nor will ever apologize for my culture and it is up to you to understand what I meant or not. I understand autistic people take everything literally and are honest which I can totally appreciate and even appreciated when you yelled at me during my apology to you. At least you said it to my face which is awesome. Nevertheless, just like you want me to respect your perspective, you will need to respect my perspective and my culture even if you don’t understand it. I will never apologize for being a Somali and an Autism Mom.

I also heard some of the self-centred and self-righteous members were upset about Sheryl Grassie whereby some of them tried to use their old tactics of divide and conquer. It won’t work and we don’t appreciate it. Sheryl should’ve been supporting and proud of Noah not picking and belittling him – period. She needs to sit down and shut up.

To those that are calling other Somali autism parents/community members trying to divide us – screw you (not a typo). 

To Deeqa:

Walaalo, Ilaahay khayr ha ku siiyo. Aad baan kuugu mahad naqayaa sida walaaltimo ee aad ii difaacday. Way ku edab darnaayeen in ay xantaan qof autismo waalid ah oo aan joogin. Aad baan ugu faraxsanahay in aad u jowaabtay oo ay ogaadeen in an nahay dad walaalo ah. Toban sano ayaan ku dhexjiray noocooda iyo ka daran, umana ogaalaado in ay iga xanaajiyaan, adiguna ha u ogalaanin. Hiilkaaga ma iloobi doono. Walaalo Mahadsanid!

Above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee.

Idil – Autism Mom