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Comments Off on MN Schools Do Not Need Suspension in their Toolbox – They need training and compassion

Alright – so, I am again testifying in an education committee about keeping our kids in the classroom. Why is this soooo hard for so many. How can we have the most minority legislators and still struggle with this issue? what the heck? The whole idea of voting for legislators who reflect us is to ensure our issues are important and addressed. Ughhhh. This is sooo frustrating.

Minnesota House of Representatives

Education Finance Committee

Chair – Rep. Youakim

March 2, 2023

      Re: Supporting HF 58 prohibiting Suspension for K-3rd grade


Dear Madam Chair and Members, good morning. My name is Idil Abdull, I am a Somali Autism Mom & a pissed-off advocate who would like to retire.

First, I would like to thank Rep. Richardson for carrying this important legislation and for always being in the corner of students and families.

Alright – so, here we meet again. As you all know, my son who has autism was suspended by teacher Kelly Morris and principal Jaysen Anderson in Bloomington School District on 5.3.2018. I am not going to repeat data and numbers of how students with disabilities are kicked out of their free and appropriate public education. You already know that 2+2 is four.

Madam Chair and Members, instead today I want to tell you that I contacted Bloomington school district’s superintendent – Dr. Eric and asked him if I could speak with the principal who suspended my kid. He agreed and we had a zoom meeting on 5.3.2022, four years after the suspension.

I asked principal Jaysen if he thinks suspending my son had any educational value. He said no.

I asked Principal Jaysen if he had remorse for suspending my son. He said yes.

I asked him if my son understood suspension; he said no and in hindsight, he would not have done it. I reminded him that as a principal of color, he bears a huge responsibility to ensure students are treated fairly and not punished unfairly.

Additionally, I requested public data about the training the principal and the teacher had on autism, behavior reduction techniques, and proactive antecedent strategies as well as culturally responsive methods. Both did not at that time.

You see Madam Chair and Members, what we need in this education toolbox is not suspension; it is training, training, and training. It is ensuring we are setting up the teachers and principals for success in how to not just teach children math and science, but how to use non-exclusionary methods and understand the needs of our students, particularly those with special needs.

I want to end with a message you told me Madam Chair years ago when MN had a divided legislature. You said – give me the house, the senate, and the governor’s office, and we will make leaps and bounds to keep kids in the classroom. It seems that your wish has come true because that is exactly what you currently have. The ball is now in your corner to mean what you say and say what you mean.


Idil Abdull

The above words do not reflect any candidate, agency, or committee.

Idil Abdull – Somali Autism Mom

Comments Off on 2022 MN State Legislature Session Update – what passed and what did not in Education Policy

Alright – so, the 2022 legislative session is behind us. As usual, the house and senate did not get along and pass even the things they agreed on. They said time ran out. Wait, isn’t the time to end in Minnesota law. Oh yeah, it is. How do you run out of time when you know when you are supposed to end. Sooooo frustrating.

This year and ever since my son has been suspended by the Bloomington school district, I have been trying the key word “trying” to advocate about suspensions. If you remember, my kid was suspended by the teacher’s union protected Kelly Morris and lobbyist protected Jaysen Anderson on Thursday, 5:18pm, May 3rd in 2018. I remember it like it was yesterday. Well, the first year, I went to the capital about this issue, I met with Sen. Hoffman who knows about this issue better than most, but he was unwilling to help. Then I went to the chair of the education committee back then, Sen. Carla N. She basically said suspension disparity was like global warming and it depended on whose data you believed. She gave this issue zero hearing and that was that.

In parallel, I also went to the chair of the house education policy back then who was Rep. Cheryl Y. Like most democrats, she was charming, had breakfast with me, and we talked and talked. She gave this issue kazilian hearings and called so many people. Then nothing passed. Keep in mind, the senate chair gave me 10 min or so. She did not waste my time or hers and said no.. bye-bye. The House – uuulalaalaa, the Minnesota democrats are like the charming boyfriend from college who never put a ring on it, but he told you everything you wanted to hear. And the MN Republicans are like the soup guy from Sienfield – no soup for you.

The following year, Rep. Ruth R became chair of the education policy, and the pre-K bill to ban suspending babies passed. The following year, Rep Ruth introduced a bill that would ban K to 3rd grade. It did not pass. By now, the senate had a new chair Sen. Chamberlain who I really like, and gave us hearings but in the end – the suspension ban bill did NOT pass. Finally, this year, Rep. Ruth tried again and we are close – close – close. So many parents, teachers, and even the union testified for it. Although I did not believe Education Minnesota (aka teacher’s union) for one second. Nada passed again. I called Chair Rep. Ruth after the session ended. I have to say she is more hopeful than I am. I think the dflers will keep playing us like a violin and the republicans do not even believe there is a discipline disparity that is based on racism.

So what now? your guess is as good as mine.

Education is the key to success in life and no party gives a flying hoot about it. The dflers will always protect the teacher and the republicans will protect the administrators. No one will protect the child.

In summary, the education suspension policy is at standstill. I do not even want to advocate because it is like hitting a wall. I may change my strategy. I think students with disabilities’ suspension rate should be separated from the general student population. Maybe both parties will be open to changing this law that we currently have which allows a kid with a disability to be suspended up to 10 days before the manifestation and determination part of the law is looked at by the district/IEP team. I think the ability to suspend a kid or not should be included in the IEP. For example, does the kid understand cause/effect, suspension, consequences, etc. If they do not, then what educational value does suspension have? Zero. Yet, schools suspend our kids because the adults need a break. If you need a break from your job, then pls find another one that does not deal with kids with disabilities. It would be nice if we can just change the federal IDEA law that most states adopt. Back to the drawing table on this. Sen. Tina Smith is on the HELP committee in Congress, but she is useless and has not done one iota on this issue.

The above words do not reflect any candidate, agency, or committee.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Advocate

Comments Off on In Support of MN State Senate File #1525 – Giving Students & Families Educational Choices

Alright – so, Sen. Chamberlain introduced legislation (SF 1525), which wants to establish education savings accounts for students.  He did this last year as well but the DFL House controlled were not having it. Nor the union liked Gov Walz.

Here is my take on this and what I sent to the Senate Education Finance and Policy Committee.

Dear Mr. Chair and Members, Idil Abdull here again whose son was suspended for five days by a union-protected teacher Kelly Morris and lobbyist-protected principal Jaysen Anderson in Jefferson High school in Bloomington Minnesota. My son who has non-verbal autism did not understand nor understand now what suspension is. The teacher took away his communication device, disrupted his daily routine then called the principal and kicked him out of his educational environment, all while his mama bear was waiting to pick him up in the school parking lot.

This was on Mar 3rd, 5:18pm in 2018, ever since then I have been trying to advocate for a policy and a law that would protect the kids with no success thus far. I have never taken him back to public school district. Instead, I took my son to a charter school that was welcoming, inclusive, and understood his autism disability. If MN had an education savings law, I would have taken him to an even more suitable educational setting that can better meet his needs.

There are quite a few states who have this and serve students better than public schools. If and when (which is often), public schools fail our children, we should have choices that can help and teach them. If the ultimate goal is to educate the student to their best ability then giving parents choices is the best answer. Some would say this discriminates against students with disabilities because not all private schools are equipped or will take them. That is not true. Yes, many private schools are not equipped, but as a parent, I would rather know that up front and not take my son there. I would rather be given the choice and look for a school that can. In fact, many autism families move to Florida and Mississippi for this very reason.

I wish the committee had another public hearing this session and asked parents to give their perspectives. I am not surprised public schools would be against this because they want to fail our children, not have any accountability, and still be funded while the student fails and/or is suspended. At the very minimum, please hold schools accountable for failing students and when the student is not in school, do not pay them.

As always, I thank you for your time and the opportunity to give you my perspective.

Idil Abdull – Somali Autism Mom and Advocate who really would like to retire.

The above words do not reflect any candidate, committee, or agency.

Comments Off on Fair Pupil Dismissal Act of Minnesota – is it really fair? Nope

Alright – so, ever since my son who has non-verbal autism was suspended for five long days by autism teacher Kelly Morris and principal Jaysen Anderson on Thursday 5:18pm, May 3rd of 2018, I have been scratching my head to figure out why and how. First of all, as I have said in both MN senate and house education committees, my son did not understand what suspension was then and does not understand it now. So why did the school district do it then? because they can. Yep, both the federal IDEA and the state law allow them.

MN Statute 121A.40 to 121A.56 is called MN Fair Dismissal Act. It is a guidance that basically follows the suspension rules under the federal law in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act also known as IDEA. It basically states that a student with a disability can be suspended similar to that of a student without a disability for up to five days. It is only after the 10 days that the school district is required to see if what caused the suspension is related to their disability. This is called manifestation determination. Imagine how schools are abusing this law that was written before autism was as high as it is today before we really understood the characteristics of autism which is a behavior disorder.

If a student with a disability has any behavior that is clearly due to their disability, the school can still kick them out of their educational environment for up to five or even ten long days. This is what the Bloomington school district did to my son. His teacher knew my son very well, she knew he did not understand cause/effect. She knew he is non-verbal, yet refused to give him his communication device. She knew he is a routine-oriented kid, yet changed his routine this day. She knew I was in the parking lot waiting to pick him up, yet did not call me and let me know. Instead, she called the principal and security on him and suspended him the next day. Imagine the heartbreak and confusion my kid felt. He does not understand suspension. All he did was mand to go to school on his device the very next day and every day after that. He did not do a willful act that caused suspension; he had behavior and wanted to finish his routine which Kelly and the adults in the Bloomington school district refused to let him. This routine was to go to his locker and pick up his coat to go home. They did not know what he wanted because they did not give him his voice (communication device). Then they kicked him out of his educational environment. Imagine having a law that allows children with disabilities to be screwed with. This is exactly what both federal and state laws do. Yet, MN state legislatures have not been warm to changing and amending this cruel and wrong law.

They say insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. We (parents and advocates who want change) must come up with different ways of advocating and/or voting for different legislators who will and can make the change we need to ensure kids with disabilities are not punished for their disability.

The above words do not reflect any candidate, agency, or committee.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom

Comments Off on Suspension Bill is Heard in Minnesota Senate Education Committee Chaired by Sen. Chamberlain

Alright – so, Sen. Torres-Ray authored a bill to ban suspending students from kindergarten to grade three in the senate and it had its first hearing; it was laid over for possible inclusion into the final omnibus education finance and policy bill. The house version is authored by Rep. Richardson.

I had to testify for this and you are not going to believe who came and was supporting suspending kids? seriously guess? I certainly could not have guessed. None other than the chair of Bloomington Public Schools (BPS). Yep. I am still in shock. BPS supporting any legislation that keeps kids in the school – what?. At any rate, I had my testimony written and submitted for the record. I was just going to read it and call it a day. Then, when I saw her face; I got emotional and what I wrote went out of the window. I told her how BPS affected our family’s life. Suspension is hurtful and heart-breaking to the kid and the whole family. Sen. Chamberlain was kind as usual and understood my perspective as a parent. Sen Isaacson was rude and dismissive as usual. And we minorities vote for democrats, come on people. By the way, BPS which has a shameful and horrible education gap and suspension disparity is controlled fully by democrats. How do you like them apples.

Minnesota State Senate

Education Finance & Policy Committee

Chair – Sen. Chamberlain

March 10, 2021

My son who has nonverbal autism was suspended by teacher Kelly Morris and principal Jaysen Anderson on Thursday, May 3rd, 5:18pm in 2018. The teacher neglected to give him his communication device, disrupted his routine then called the principal and security on my kid. I never took him back. My son now goes to a charter school which has been simply wonderful. They understand he has a disability and does not comprehend suspension nor cause/effect.

I will never forget that day.

 Re: SF 1048

Mr. Chair and Members, thanks much for the opportunity to testify today. I support this bill that bans kicking kids out of their educational environment. My own kid was suspended by a union-protected teacher and a lobbyist-protected principal.

We know that one of the main factors in education gap is the result of discipline disparities (Pearman et al., 2019) If students are not in school; they are not learning; if they are not learning; they are failing.

To those that say, what do I do with a child that brings a weapon to school that is a whole another kind of action. If a child in third grade or younger has access to any kind of a weapon, there must be different type of consequences and questions. This bill does not address that and yes, we want safe schools, but we also want schools that teach children by keeping them in their educational environment.

Additionally, to those that preach we understand, we know, and we care about disparities, yet their school districts have been cited for the very thing (discipline disparities) they supposedly care about; please stop preaching sugar while practicing salt. If whatever you are doing was working, we would not be here. Opposing this bill while bringing no alternative solutions to the table is not acceptable and cannot be tolerated.

Please take a read in below research to further understand how discipline disparities and education gap are very much connected. This is why Minnesota has a horrible and shameful education gap. We must keep kids in school and teach them; suspending students has zero educational value.

As always, I thank you for your time.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom

The above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or, committee.


Comments Off on Increasing and Not firing Teachers of Color – We can only Hope

Alright – so, if you live in Minnesota or follow education laws and policies then you know we have a horrible and shameful education disparity record. There are many reasons for this; one of is not enough teachers of color who reflect our kids. Another reason is often teachers of color are the last hired and first fired even when are are fantastic and win teacher of year. Why? two words Education Minnesota aka Teacher’s Union.


Minnesota House of Representatives

Education Finance Committee

Chair – Rep. Davnie

February 3, 2021


Mr. Chair and Members, Good Morning.

Many thanks for the opportunity to testify and speak for my son and so many others like him. My name is Idil Abdull.

I would like to take a moment and thank the author of this bill Rep. Hassan – thanks much for wanting to ensure our kids succeed in school. I am in full support of HF 217.

Students are like blank pages. What fills those pages is what their teacher writes on it. Therefore, it is crucial we have teachers who are in this profession for the right reasons; that is to foster, care and mold young impressionable minds.

As I have so many times stated in this committee and other education committees in the house and senate, my son was suspended on Thursday May 3rd at 5:18pm in 2018 by a white female teacher Kelly Morris and principal Jaysen Anderson from Jefferson high school in Bloomington Public Schools. I often wonder if Kelly and Jaysen reflected my kid, would the outcome have been different. If Kelly were a teacher of color, would my son who is autistic and had a behavior due to his disability be so eager to call the principal and security on him.

Due to this traumatizing experience, I have taken my child to a charter school in Minneapolis where most of my son’s teachers are minorities and I cannot tell you how relaxing and stress-free it has been for our family. I no longer worry my child being punished for his disability. My son’s current teacher is Somali, and I know she will not only teach him, but nurture and care for him. If I knew what I know today, I would have never taken my child to Jefferson or any other educational environment where teachers and administrators did not reflect him.

Clearly given the sheer number of written and oral support for this bill, it is much needed and necessary if we want our children to do well not just in school but in life. I want to emphasize the ability to hire and retain teachers based on performance not mere seniority. It is extremely essential and imperative to keep effective teachers in the classroom.

Helpful research and articles for your reading pleasure.

As always, I thank you for your time.                    Idil – Somali Autism Mom

Comments Off on MN Suspensions for Students with Disabilities – Can we get the opportunity to appeal?

Alright – so, every since Kelly Morris and Jaysen Anderson changed my outlook in education for me, I have studied, researched and learned more about this issue in these short few years than I have in the past decade. Thus, I have been advocating in the state and in the federal level trying to find and seek ideas and support so that what Kelly and Jaysen did to my kid does not keep happening to other kids which sadly it has been. This afternoon, I have testified in the Minn House of Reps – Education Policy Committee. Below is my Testimony.


Minnesota House of Representatives

Education Policy Committee

Chair – Rep. Richardson

February 1, 2021


Madam Chair, Vice Chair and Members, Good afternoon.

Many thanks for the opportunity to testify and speak for my son and so many others like him. My name is Idil Abdull.

My son was suspended on Thursday May 3rd at 5:18pm in 2018 by teacher Kelly Morris and principal Jaysen Anderson from Jefferson high school in Bloomington Public Schools.

My son has non-verbal autism and did not nor does he now understand what suspension is or comprehends cause/effect. Nevertheless, Kelly and Jaysen kicked him out from his educational environment. As you are aware and have seen data after data, Minnesota has a horrible and shameful record for racial discipline. This is not an accident. It happens and will continue to happen because there is no accountability for the teachers nor the principals and administrators. This is also not an accident.

So now what? As a parent along with many other families, we cannot keep asking the same question every legislative session while nothing significant nor meaningful passes. For students with special needs, I would like to suggest some ideas:

As I learn and dig what other states are doing, I came across WI statute (attached to this testimony). Please take a read under suspension, question 4 which states the following:

May a suspension be appealed? A parent or pupil may, within five school days following the commencement of a suspension, have a conference with the school district administrator or his/her designee. The designee may not be the principal, an administrator, or a teacher in the child’s school. If the school district administrator or his/her designee finds that the child was suspended unfairly or unjustly, or the suspension was inappropriate given the nature of the offense, or the child suffered undue consequences or penalties as a result of the suspension, reference to the suspension must be removed from the child’s records. The finding must be made within 15 days of the conference, s. 120.13 (1) (b), Wis. Stats

Imagine if I had such opportunity along with thousands of other families whose children were kicked out of school unfairly and unjustly. Imagine if the teacher and the administrators were held accountable for their actions and had to explain. Imagine if children went to school to learn and not be afraid of getting kicked out. Just imagine.

Currently, the way Minnesota education laws are written are not child/student/family centered nor friendly. They instead are teacher/administrator friendly and protect the adults who chose this profession instead of the children.

My son communicates with a device and is routine oriented as many kids with autism are. Yet, his teacher on this day changed his routine and neglected to give him his communication device. Then when he had a behavior because he wanted to finish his routine of going to his locker at the end of the day, she called the principal and security on him. This is a day I will never forget not because of what Kelly did but because how Minnesota’s laws allow her. If teachers and administrators are not accountable for their actions or lack thereof, then really what is the point here?

I ask you all to take a read of the attached information from WI and see how our current Minnesota laws can be amended to ensure what happened to my family does not keep happening to more children and parents.


As always, I thank you for your time and for listening.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom and Advocate


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

Comments Off on MN Principal’s Associations – What the heck do they do and why are they against students particularly students of color and students with disabilities

Alright – so, ever since principal Jaysen Anderson from Jefferson High School in Bloomington Public Schools suspended my child who has nonverbal autism and does not understand the concept of suspension for a behavior his autism teacher Kelly Morris caused, I have been trying to advocate in the world of education.

This week, I testified in favor of what little positive Gov Walz’s state education department added to hold schools accountable. MN House of Reps Education Policy Committee heard this bill. Most people were for this language except Mr. Roger Aronson. At first, I thought who the heck is this guy and why would any school official be against ensuring all students are treated equally and fairly. Then as I listened to his testimony, I realized it is people like him who are responsible for the horrible racial gap Minnesota has in education particularly suspending students of color and students with disabilities.

For example, the proposed language said, schools must first use nonexclusionary methods before suspending or expelling a student. Sounds perfect, right? well – not to Mr. Aronson. He kept saying “we need the principals to have…..wait for it….it is really good…..drum roll……the discretion to suspend or not suspend”. Are you kidding me? we are in this racial gap because principals discretions have been biased, subjective, racist and wrong.

I mean think about it. Principal – Jaysen’s discretion was to suspend a child with nonverbal autism who did not understand what the heck suspension is. Keep in mind that Bloomington Public Schools were part of the state’s human rights list of schools that have a yuky racial gap. Yet, this principal’s discretion and judgment were to suspend a nonverbal autistic child. Imagine that.

I am sorry but giving any discretion to principals like Jaysen is what created education disparity. I ask and beg state legislatures and the governor to NOT give any more discretion to the very folks who created this problem. The schools must be held accountable for their record and I would even add have financial consequences if they disproportionately suspend, fail or expel students of color and students with disabilities.

Minnesota Association of Secondary Schools – as white as vanilla. 

Minnesota Association for elementary and middle school principals – staff are as white as Minn snow. Seriously people? These folks decide policies for our children yet no one looks like us.

Below are facts of how horrible racial gap is in Minnesota.

Why are Black students suspended and punished more even when their behavior is similar to their white peers? by NY York Times. This happened to me at Bloomington Public Schools who did not suspend when white autistic kids had a behavior but when black or brown kids did, they were suspended or sent to a segregated building. This pisses me off to my core.

Students of color and students with disabilities are suspended disproportionately – Mpls Tribune 

Summary of the legislation by the state education department.

My testimony in the committee

The whole legislation. Note: Asking school districts to use nonexclusionary methods before dismissal is article 2, section 6, line 10.2 to 10.7 (Ladies and gentlemen, unless we understand what happens at the legislature and to some extent Congress, our children will remain in disparity). 

You can listen here and the suspension part is around 1:20 to 1:40. (my favorite part is Josh from EdAllies who simply rocks, omg he is fantastic!)

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

Idil – Somali Autism Mom

Comments Off on Cameras in Special Needs Classes – Why Are They Important in Minnesota and Nationwide – Bloomington Public Schools Need This….

Alright – so, from May 3rd of 2018 when my son who has nonverbal autism was suspended by Bloomington Public Schools (BPS), I have been trying to make sense of what happened and why BPS would treat my child such cruel manner.

I have blogged about this and will continue to do as well as testify in whatever state committees possible and inform as many legislators as I can find. I continue to find disturbing data and information that students of color especially black boys are disproportionately suspended by districts such as Bloomington as well as other districts in Minnesota and nationwide. Equally important is that students of color are also sent to segregated educational settings disproportionately by school districts such as Bloomington. You see Bloomington Public School even wanted to send my child to a level four educational setting which is a separate and segregated building. Of course, I said, “hell will freeze, and pigs will fly before I would allow that”.

As a result, BPS chose to hire an expensive attorney and fight me in due process court. I will write about my experience there as well as testify and tell my story to everyone I know but this post is about sending minority students especially black boys to a separate and unequal educational setting while society mostly stands idle. (no pun intended).

First, in Minnesota, there are no cameras in self-contained special needs classrooms to protect our children from being abused as so many including my son have been. Without cameras, there is no way to prove abuse happened as often our children are not able to tell us or the authorities.

Second, so many teachers including my son’s teacher (Kelly Morris) from BPS do not have adequate training and support to help and teach these children. So, they choose to suspend, expel or ship them to a segregated and unequal building.

Third, there is for sure either subliminal or conscious bias and racism that often no one wants to admit. As the saying goes, I am a liberal therefore I can’t be racist, I have a black friend, therefore, I can’t be racist, I voted for Obama or Ilhan, therefore, I can’t be racist. Only if I had a penny every time, I heard this.

Fourth, in Minnesota and other states, families of color don’t have strong advocacy attorneys who fight for our children. Often there are disability law and advocacy centers who are underpaid and overworked and are sadly no match for the private and expensive attorneys schools can afford.

Fifth, so many parents including me look the other way unless it happens to them. This is the saddest point of all. Qofkii walaalkiis loo xiiroow, adna soo qoyso. Don’t ever assume you are immune to what happens to your fellow autism parent.

  • We must advocate for cameras in special needs classes. Please call your legislators and ask them to write and/or support such legislation in Minnesota because protecting students with disabilities is a must.
  • We must advocate for holding school districts like Bloomington in Minnesota who disproportionately suspend minority children by speaking and sharing our experiences and asking our legislators that there must be better laws protecting and holding teachers and administrators accountable with tangible consequences.
  • We must advocate for holding school districts like Bloomington in Minnesota who send children to segregated buildings because often that is a violation of students learning in the least restrictive environment. There are school districts who disproportionately send students of color, especially black boys to these cruel segregated settings that are often pipeline to prison.
  • Here is how you can find who represents you in Minnesota’s state and federal elected officials.
  • Parents in Texas advocated for this and here is that information.

Ironically, I found this article in The New Yorker written by a journalist who years ago was for some reason interested in doing a story about my advocacy in the Somali autism community. Rachel writes about how black boys in Georgia are disproportionately sent to a separate and unequal educational setting. I hope you read it, it is long but you will find yourself energized to do something as there are a lot of similarities to this story and where Bloomington wanted to send my child and sadly sends other minority students.

Georgia’s Separate and Unequal Special Education System by The New Yorker on October 2018 issue.

A teacher hurting an autism child…this pisses off to my core. 

A teacher abusing an autistic child – this happens a lot by not just teachers but also the paraprofessionals which is what happened to my child but because often our children are not able to tell us, the school staff deny unless of course, a camera catches them.

Another area to advocate is the governor of Minnesota’s office. However, I am not optimistic Walz will help due to the fact that he was a teacher in Mankato Public Schools given that Mankato suspends students of color disproportionately as a report by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights outlined.

The state requires Mankato Public Schools to make a plan to reduce discipline disparities

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

Idil – Somali Autism Mom

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