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Comments Off on Minnesota Education Commissioner under Gov Walz is against giving families choices to educate their children – what?

Alright – so, ever since my son was suspended on May 3rd, 5:18pm in 2018 by union-protected teacher Kelly Morris and lobbyist-protected principal Jaysen Anderson in Bloomington public schools, I have been advocating locally and nationally about this issue without any meaningful success thus far. Education is by far one of the hardest areas I have ever had to advocate. No one wants to make any real changes. It is all talk and more talk every year. Sooooo frustrating. At any rate, the senate education finance and policy committee has been trying to help a bit by passing legislation that would give parents choices and better opportunities to educate their children.

I was saddened but not surprised to read your written testimony to the committee on 2.21.22. I want to ask you where was/is your grave concerns when students like my son are kicked out of school. Where is your grave concern when so many students fail and do not learn in public school districts? where is your grave concern when MDE pays these districts even when the student is not there or when they do not graduate? where is your grave concern for parents like me who have been traumatized by public school districts?

You see Commissioner – free appropriate public education (FAPE) does not mean success to many students. Yes, free but not appropriate. My son’s teacher was not trained on autism behavior intervention, positive behavior support, data collection, functions of behavior, sensory needs and so much more. Yet she was an autism teacher. My son’s paraprofessionals were trained even less. The system just gives more money to these public school districts without accountability and consequences when our kids fail and are kicked out.

MDE has been silent in this area and in so many educational areas. I for one am waiting to see what the state office of legislative auditor report will say. Not only have the schools failed our kids but you and the state education agency have also failed us in so many ways and more than you can ever imagine. I am not naive and understand public education is more about politics and less about teaching kids.

Did you know that what Bloomington did to my son has caused me trauma and anxiety? Did you know that our story is not the exception? it happens to so many other families and we get no help from MDE at all.

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

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

Comments Off on Will the State of Minnesota Legislatures Stand Up for Kids This Year?

Alright – so, Minnesota’s legislative session starts in January or so and winds down by early May. Around March, all of the bills for the session have been introduced and have had hearings if they are to end up in the final omnibus bill which is what becomes a law.

I have been following the education bills from the state house and senate. Minnesota is the only state in the country that has a divided legislature – interesting, hunh? At any rate, I testified yesterday in the senate omnibus walkthrough. Below is my testimony. I must say I find the chair Sen. Chamberlain welcoming, inclusive, charming and charismatic. He knows his stuff, but keeps it light-hearted and allows everyone in the public to be heard.

Minnesota Senate Education Finance & Policy Committee

Chair – Sen. Chamberlain

April 6th, 2021

Re: Education Omnibus bill, SF-960

Dear Mr. Chair and Members, many thanks for the opportunity to testify today for my son and other students like him. Many of you are parents, uncles, aunts, etc., we all send our children to school to learn not just math and science, but also social and life skills.

Research has repeatedly told us that students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately suspended. Many including my son who has nonverbal autism do not understand suspension; yet schools kick these kids out of their educational environment. We all want safe schools; we also want our children to learn and stay in school.

Administrators and teachers need support, training, and resources to teach, but they should also be held accountable for their actions. I ask that you add the suspension bill from Sen. Patricia Torres Ray and the governor’s language of trying non-exclusionary methods first before suspending a kid to the senate portion of the education omnibus bill.

You have all heard the horrible and shameful record Minnesota has in education disparity. You also know that Minnesota is the only state in the country with a divided legislature. What the voters have told you is to work together in bipartisan manner that ensures everyone’s voice is heard and valued. I ask you all to please keep our children in school, increase teachers of color and protect students with disabilities for being punished for their disability.

As always, I thank you for your time and hope this legislative session produces more fruitful laws than before for all students.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom

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


Comments Off on Maureen Bartolotta is out – New School Board Members are in – YAY!

Alright – so, Good news from Bloomington public schools in Minnesota. Ever since my son who has nonverbal autism and does not understand the concept of suspension was kicked out of his educational setting by teacher Kelly Morris and principal Jaysen Anderson – I have been a relentless advocate in changing this district’s school board. I am happy to report Maureen Bartolotta lost. My take is goodbye and good riddance. Sadly, Nelly K kept her seat but not for long – I hope. Dick decided to not run this year. Goodbye and good riddance to him as well.

There are now two new school board members – Mia and Heather who I will be watching like a hawk to ensure they do what they campaigned on. Mia seems to be kind and Heather seems to be hands-on articulate. I am saddened that John lost but next time. We keep trying until we replace all of them. The ultimate goal is to replace Dawn S with a Somali person. Ahhh – how sweet would that be.

My suggestions to the new board members are:

  1. Always be on the side of the children.
  2. Get the data on suspension and expulsion for students with disabilities and students of color and ask why then do something about it.
  3. Hold teachers and principals accountable for their suspension rates, failing kids and being exclusive towards our children.
  4. Don’t forget you are there to represent the kids not the adults.
  5. Be humble and reachable to all parents and students.
  6. Finally, never ever underestimate any parent especially autism mothers.

This district meets every other Monday in the evening and I encourage anyone who has or had a child here to go and hold them accountable. Unless we demand a seat at the table, we are on the menu.

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

Idil – Autism Mom

Comments Off on Bloomington School Board Members (Maureen Bartolotta & Nelly Korman) Need to be Voted Out on November 5th, 2019

Alright – so, Bloomington public schools including Jefferson high school have a shameful racial discipline disparity record according to Minn Dept of Human Rights. Jaysen Anderson and Kelly Morris have suspended my son who has nonverbal autism and does not even understand what the heck suspension is. Additionally, the teacher Kelly denied him his communication device, disrupted his daily routine then called security and the principal (Jaysen) on him. How do you like them apples?

As that was not bad enough, the district board members backed and protected the adults in this situation. If we (parents) want to change the system, then we need to use our votes/voices wisely. Few of the current board members are up for re-election this year. I recently went to an event held by the league of women voters where the current and hopeful candidates were asked various questions that mostly came from the audience including me. Not surprisingly, the first half of the questions were about Bloomington’s horrible and shameful racial disparities. Based on the answers given by the couple (Maureen & Nelly) who are running for re-election and need to be voted out – they did not really have any good answers. In other words, they seemed to suggest things are fine under their leadership. Of course, this is not true given that Bloomington is one of 43 school districts in Minnesota with high racial discipline disparities for students with disabilities and students of color.

Nelly who is an immigrant and a minority said a lot of things that she did not practice when my son was being kicked out of his educational environment. For example, Nelly said that she puts herself in other’s shoes by listening to their concerns. Now what now? She has never called or responded to any of my messages. She said the district went to the Minn Dept of Human Rights with a plan. The problem is this district suspended my child couple of months after they made a deal with the human rights dept to not suspend kids of color or students with disabilities. In other words, they did not practice what they promised. I went up to her and told her that it is my hope she loses this election and in the sad event she does not, we must keep coming back until she is no longer on the board.

Maureen did not really say anything significant nor substantive. She basically said the school district is doing fine. I am sorry but our kids are being kicked out of this district and are failing. This is not fine. It is heartbreaking & unacceptable. A child’s home is school, but Bloomington school district is kicking children out of their home in a way that is disproportionate. Racial disproportionalities are caused by either conscious or subconscious racism. She said compromise is where the best decision for the kids comes from. Does this mean kicking a nonverbal autistic child was the best decision. I do not think so meaning Maureen has got to go and be voted out of the board this year!

Who is running against them? Seriously I would help if a mannequin was running against them.

John Moravec – I thought was intelligent and pragmatic.

Mia Olson – I thought she was the kindest and had a lot of compassionate thoughts.

Heather Starks – I thought she was very articulate and did her homework.

In summary, if we want our children to learn and be nurtured in Bloomington Public Schools, then we need to vote out those whose leadership caused racial disparity in discipline and graduation. Insanity is voting for the same people and expecting different results.

From frustration comes good change.

Please go out and vote Tuesday for any of the three I mentioned above if you want to make a change and finally make a dent in racial disparity.

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

Idil – Somali Autism Mom

Comments Off on U.S Commission on Civil Rights Releases – Beyond Suspensions Report – 6 out of 8 agree there is Racial Disparity but two Do Not – what the heck?

Alright – so, I have been trying to figure out about suspensions and school discipline ever since my son was suspended by Kelly Morris and Jaysen Anderson of Bloomington Public Schools on May 3rd, 5:18pm of 2018. This is a date that I will never forget. It is a date that pushes me to advocate and figure out why there is such a disparity because a kid is a kid is a kid irrespective of his/her color, race, ethnicity or disability.

There are so much debate and disagreement on this issue. The reality is most democrats support the teachers and their unions while most republicans support principals/administrators and their associations. This makes me wonder who supports the children and families – no one. Not in Minnesota State Legislature anyway. I have tried to reach out some of the national folks who work on this issue. Sadly, there isn’t anything that can move the needle at the federal level or any other state. This is extremely frustrating. Parents and/or those that claim to help students and parents are not really organized and cohesive, at least not as much as the unions and lobbyists are.

I am not sure how this issue will be tackled but I do not one thing. Every Thursday at 5:18pm, I am mad about what Jaysen and Kelly did to my kid and how they have forever changed my world and how I see public education. I also know that I will never stop advocating even if this hill seems a long one to climb. A couple of weeks ago, the U.S Commission on Civil Rights released a report on this issue. Take a read here. 

It was interesting 2 of the 6 members did not agree with this report and one is an African American male who wrote this. He also wrote this more detail dissenting statement which if you read it twice – it kinda makes sense.  I just wonder what the solution is then. I also think and wonder if someone like him can’t see the problem then how can a white privileged person possibly see it. He cites a Minnesota school teacher who was hurt by a student. There are more students hurt by teachers and administrators yet no outrage. Frustrating.

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

Idil – Autism mom

Comments Off on Dear Senators Nelson and Weber of MN State Legislature – Please Speak and Support the Children NOT the Adults (principals & administrators)

Dear Senators Nelson and Weber, 

I heard in the conference committee today, you both were against being on the side of the students and were rather on the side of adults particularly principals and administrators.

I hope you know that Minnesota has a horrible and shameful education gap for students of color and students with disabilities. I also hope you know that this comes from students being kicked out of school by the very adults whom parents trust to teach and nurture their children.

Additionally, to become a teacher of color, one must first be a student of color who is actually in class and learns. We can’t just ignore the big elephant in the education room and pretend it does not exist.

I respectfully ask that you vote on the side of the children and families by asking school districts to first try nonexclusionary methods before they kick a child out of school unless of course there is a dangerous element. The status quo isn’t working, and we need to make a change. I ask that you are bold and courageous enough to make a change and side with students and their families. The whole idea of the conference committee is to negotiate not just say no. If you don’t like what the House proposed, then suggest something different, please.

Sen Nelson, I saw a Facebook post where you stated, “we must focus on students’. I could not agree more. Please focus on students and hold the adults (administrators/principals) accountable. You also said, “education is the equalizer, it is the moral issue of our day, it is the racial issue of our day and the economic issue of our day”. Well – such eloquent words need to be backed with votes in the conference committee. I have always known you to be the voice of reason starting way back when I campaigned for you years ago. I beg you to mean what you say and say what you mean by speaking and helping ALL kids succeed in school.

Discipline disparities are linked to education gap and we cannot just ignore it. We must address it with thoughtful and holistic policies. The time is now.

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

Idil – Autism Mom who is really frustrated by the current education system 

Comments Off on Principal Jaysen Anderson of Bloomington Public Schools – Not Surprising Complaint Results

Alright – so, I have written and will continue to write about my experience with Jefferson High School in Bloomington Public Schools. My son who has nonverbal autism was suspended by Principal Jaysen, teacher Kelly Morris and Special Director Jennifer McIntyre for having a behavior that was caused by the teacher for disrupting his daily routine. Additionally, the teacher denied my child his voice by not giving him his communication device thereby violating his civil rights. As a mom and as you can imagine, I was devastated. How can anyone suspend five days a child who can’t even talk back at them, understand what the heck suspension is nor comprehend cause/effect? If Bloomington Public Schools can do this to a child like mine, imagine how they treat other minority children. It turns out this district has a horrible disparity record and disproportionately suspends students of color.

The big question now is – what can be done about it so that they don’t keep creating these horrible statistics, what do current laws and policies say about suspending students with disabilities, and what happens to principals, teachers and administrators who create such discriminatory stats? Well – I am finding out that one of the main reasons educators like Jaysen, Kelly and Jennifer keep doing what they have done for years is because current laws and policies protect them. It is easier to suspend and/or expel a minority student than suspend or fire a white teacher. I kid you not. Here comes the hard part or maybe the easy part – what can we parents do about this. How do we advocate for a meaningful change that stops this blatant discrimination? First, let me explain what disparity or disproportionately suspending and failing students of color is. Every parent wants their child to succeed and learn in school. Children go to school to learn, be nurtured, to succeed, and to be supported. It is how their teachers, principals and administrators do their job in teaching, supporting and nurturing the children that create differential treatments which create disparities. In other words, when a white child does something wrong, a white teacher and administrator are more likely to support and help that student learn right from wrong by giving them advice, maybe doing in school suspension, calling their parents and helping them, etc. By the same token, when a minority student does something wrong, the same white teacher and administrators are more likely to suspend out of school or expel the minority child. This is what creates disparity. It is the differential treatment our children get by mostly non-minority educators. This is also discrimination that is often subtle and passive-aggressive. This type of differential treatment created the huge gap Minnesota has in suspension, graduation, expulsion so on and so forth.

As I said, current laws protect the educators more than they protect the students. I for one am determined to change this so that another child and family does not endure the pain and heartache we have endured.

I filed a complaint against Jefferson high school principal, Jaysen for violating some of his licensing board’s code of ethics which is the only thing I can do now based on current laws. Below is the licensing board for school principal’s response. As you can see Jaysen did not even get a slap on the wrist. So, why should he do any better next time? If people like this principal don’t get fired, suspended, etc. they are not going to do better for our children. Jaysen will more likely suspend more nonverbal autistic children, more minority students and will get away with it. Unless of course, we change the statute that governs this board, the rules for it and make this board more diverse by advocating the folks that appoint them. In other words, insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results which is what I told this board in my response to their response.

Sept. 13, 2018

Dear Idil:

As you already know, the purpose of the Board of School Administrators is to ensure the highest professional standards of administrators through licensure, approval of preparation programs, rules for continuing education, and adopting, by rule, a code of ethics covering standards of professional practice, including ethical conduct, professional performance, and methods of enforcement. The Code of Ethics is found in Minnesota Administrative Rule 3512.5200.

The board has created a special committee of its membership called the Ethics Committee for the purposes of impartially examining complaints that involve possible violations of the  Code of Ethics.  The Committee is made up of seasoned and tested educators who have been appointed to the board by the governor for their commitment to due process, to justice, and a deep resolve to be honest at all levels. Claims of misconduct are investigated and considered individually to determine if there is sufficient factual evidence to support the claim. When investigating complaints, Minnesota Administrative Rule 3512.5200,  Subp. 4, mandates a due process for administrators by allowing them to be “represented by the administrator’s own counsel or representative at each stage of the investigation and hearing.”

Ethics Committee sessions are closed to the public. If the Ethics Committee concludes that a complaint does not merit an inquiry, the case is closed and is not moved forward. If the Committee finds sufficient evidence to conduct an inquiry, the affected administrator will be asked to provide the Committee with their account of the matter. Typically, the accused responds with the advice and counsel

of an attorney. After weighing all of the evidence, the  Ethics Committee determines if there has been a violation of Minnesota Statute 122A or the Code of Ethics. If so, the Committee recommends penalties to the full board.  If the Committee concludes there has not been a violation, the case is closed and the administrator remains licensed. The information you have provided to the Board is classified as private data pursuant to the Government Data Practices Act, Minnesota Statutes Sections 13.04, subd. 2 and 13.41, subd. 2. Such information is for the use of the board’s staff and the Attorney General’s Office in evaluating your complaint. At the Sept. 10, 2018, meeting, the Ethics Committee carefully reviewed the information provided to it related to the complaints against Jaysen Anderson and the potential violation of the Code of Ethics for School Administrators outlined in Minnesota Statute 12.z.A and Minnesota Rule 3512.5200. After examining all of the evidence, the Committee has concluded that Mr. Anderson remains a licensed school administrator. Although I am severely limited by the Minnesota Data Privacy Act on what I can share with you pertaining to your complaint, I did want to let you know that at the meeting, the Ethics Committee did, as we do for most of the administrators we work with, offer some ideas to Mr. Anderson to consider as he strives for continuous improvement.

 As you know, the Board of School Administrators does not have the authority to change an administrators ‘ employment status or force a district to take certain employment-related disciplinary action against a licensed administrator. The Committee recognizes the difficulty of understanding the fine line between questionable decision-making by administrators which is governed by the local school board (for charter schools, it’s the school board and the authorizers) and substantiated ethical violations which are under the Board of School Administrators ‘ jurisdiction.

With respect to ethical violations, the Committee considers this matter closed. Please know that I am very sorry that I am unable to share additional information about the Ethics Com committee’s decision or its deliberations due to the Minnesota Data Privacy Act. I know you care deeply about the education in your community. While this decision is not perhaps what you had hoped, I can assure you that this process and the attention brought to the issue you raised, almost

always helps administrators make improvements which, in the final analysis, helps make schools better for Minnesota school children.

Thank you for contacting the Board of School Administrators.


Students with autism are sadly suspended, segregated and mistreated by many school districts and we need to fight this via policy advocacy and through the courts.

Data from The National Autism Center

Abuse of children with special needs in public schools

Special education teacher accused of abusing nonverbal students. This is heartbreaking to me as my son has nonverbal autism and I have been told that his paraprofessionals have neglected him while his teacher did nothing and in one occasion denied him his communication device.


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

Idil – Autism Mom & Advocate

Comments Off on Nineteen percent of Black Children with Disabilities were suspended by school districts – data suggests

Alright – so, as I have written before and will continue to do so until this issue of disproportionately suspending minority children decreases. I have been reading like crazy and gathering data from Minnesota and nationwide. A letter from the U.S Department of Education in 2016 cited data that suggested not only were students with disabilities suspended at a higher rate, but students with disabilities who were minorities were even higher. No surprise there. As a black woman, I am not surprised – rather pissed because at some point this crap has to stop and people like Kelly Morris, Jaysen Anderson and Jennifer McIntyre from Jefferson High school who are deliberately suspending our children must be held accountable. Insanity is doing the same-thing and expecting different results.

Last week I went to see Sen. Abeler who is like a brother to me and has supported autism in the Somali community when no one else did. He is the chair of the health and human policy commitee in Minnesota Senate. He referred me to Sen. Hoffman who I don’t know well but he knew everything about Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Minnesota’s Pupil Fair Dismissal Act. I mean he was able to cite specific words and what page they were on – impressive. I went to the state legislature to see why there is a law that allows school districts to suspend children with disabilities up to five days even if their behavior is due to their disability like Bloomington school district did.

Here is what each said. Abeler said “clearly Bloomington school district did not have an idea of how to help my son whom they taught since elementary. By now they should’ve had his behaviors down and how to help him proactively”. No argument there, I already know Bloomington school district staff were incompetent and had no training in positive behavior support nor did principal Jaysen understand autism as he sadly admitted. Sen. Carla N said who chairs the education finance committee said – it will be hard to amend the current law but not impossible, and maybe schools need more training on how to support students with behavior disorders like autism similar to how police are now trained on mental health crises. Sen. Hoffman said ” Did Bloomington meet my son’s unique needs according to his disability and how it affects his education”. The short answer is no they did not meet his unique needs because they knew he is a routine oriented child, yet they disrupted his routine which caused a meltdown. Additionally, he said they did not provide him his communication device so he can tell them what he wanted thereby violating his civil rights. So what does this all mean now? well – maybe I can sue them, maybe I can complain to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights or office of civil rights or maybe I can file a complaint with Minnesota Department of Education. Maybe I will do all. The federal law clearly states “in the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child’s learning or that of others, the IEP Team must consider, and when necessary provide FAPE including IEP – the use of positive behavior support interventions and other strategies to address that behavior. 34 CRF 300.324(a)(2)(i) and (b)(2) and 300.320(a)(4). Did Bloomington fail my child – heck yes. Did they do it willfully and purposefully. Yes, without a doubt. His teacher nor the principal were trained in positive behavior support. Instead of getting the IEP team to help him, they suspended him knowing he didn’t understand the concept of suspension. I wonder what kind of human-being that makes them? Think about it – who picks on a vulnerable disabled nonverbal child? Only a monster.

However, what I am really interested now is to eliminate Bloomington school district having the opportunity to ever treat another child like they treated mine and this can only happen if the suspension policy is amended to say that students with disabilities can be suspended like students without disabilities if their behavior is not due to their disability and that the students IEP must document the child’s behaviors and how to support it proactively and positively. I know Bloomington failed my son and so many other children of color as well as students with disabilities, and I will not rest until they are no longer able to hurt any more child.

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

Idil – Autism Mom

Comments Off on Bloomington School District in Minnesota Suspended a Child with Nonverbal Autism

Alright – so, Bloomington school district in Minnesota suspended my son for having a behavior that was triggered by his special education teacher Kelly Morris who disrupted his routine. Let’s describe autism – it is a behavior disorder and children with autism are routine oriented. Yet, his teacher disrupts then suspends him for wanting to continue and finish his routine.

I want to write this post from an autism mother’s perspective and how I felt when I got an email from my son’s principal Jaysen Anderson telling me that my son was suspended for having a behavior. At first, I thought I was in a nightmare. Then I forwarded the email to someone else to read it to me because I simply could not believe it. I knew that black boys were disproportionately suspended by Bloomington school district, but I thought my son who has nonverbal autism was at-least excluded from that statistic.

I trusted this school district. I trusted his special education teacher and I trusted the superintendent who is a person of color, but they shattered my trust in one email. They saw my son as a black teenager, not as a child with disability. They did not see a child with autism who depended on them to be taught and to be cared for. They have broken my heart and made what every black mother is afraid of a reality. Ever since that day on May 3rd, 2018 at 5:18pm – I have been trying to figure out how the heck something like this could happen to my son and so many other minority children especially black boys. I have been gathering data from school districts which makes me even more sad. At first, I thought if the school and district leaders reflected the students they serve then this horrible statistic would not be. Then when I think of Bloomington’s superintendent Les Fujitake and Jefferson High school principal Jaysen Anderson who are both minority – I thought just because they look like us does not mean they are fair or that our children are treated equally. I mean think of Supreme court justice Thomas Clarence – he is a minority yet he votes against anything fair and equal that enhances minorities.

How can a principal who is supposed to be a leader and lead students into the future suspend a nonverbal autistic child who does not understand the concept of suspension. What educational value did this have? The IDEA law has one size fits all for suspending students with disabilities. The state law resembles the federal law and has one size fits all. How can this be? how can we have one size fits all for all disabilities or even just autism which is a spectrum and affects individuals so differently. This I am determined to change so that no more child with autism goes through what my son did. If you are a parent whose child goes to Bloomington school district, I urge you to contact The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) and request the report that explains how Bloomington school district disproportionately suspends students of color and students with disabilities. Sadly, even after that report this district still suspended a black child with a disability for having a behavior that was due to his disability which the teacher triggered. Think about that and pull your child out of this district unless you want him/her to be part of a horrible statistic. My son communicates using an app in his iPad but his teacher Ms. Kelly Morris took his device away. In other words, the school disrupts his routine, takes away his voice then suspends him for wanting to complete his routine. Imagine being a parent and hearing this. How would you feel?

Can diversifying the Bloomington School Board help?

Heck yes. I have advocated for Somali autism students and other minorities in Mpls school board and while MPS Schools don’t always have good record in terms of achievement gap and suspension, at the very minimum their board was very receptive and understanding of the needs of our children. The reason for this is Siad and other minorities are board members and they fully understand that they can be voted out if they don’t help minority parents and families. With Bloomington School District Board, there is no person of color, zero, zilch, zap. There are three white men and four white women one of which has a son with autism. In fact, their board chair and I served in an autism task force together but we often disagreed because Ms. Steigauf did not want to add low income autism children getting behavior therapy into the autism legislative task force. And, I of course wanted to add help and therapy for low income children who are disproportionately minorities.

In summary, we need to have a diverse school board in Bloomington to reflect the students they serve. I am hoping someone runs against some of the current board members in the next election. I think we can do it and diversify this school board which is sorely needed. If you can believe it the Bloomington City Council has six white men and ONE black man. What the heck? Nothing about us without us. We have got to be at the table or we are on that table as my son was in Bloomington school district. Vote for diversity and equality.

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

Idil – Autism Mom

Comments Off on Federal Settings for Children with Autism and other Disabilities – what the heck are they?

Alright – so, There are several settings for students with autism and other disabilities. And, each setting has specific requirements that the school district must follow. I actually never knew about this. I just assumed – the child’s IEP team including the parent who are equal and full partners write the goals of the child and that is what is implemented. This is not the case most of the time. Many school districts including my least-favorite district in Minnesota – Bloomington Schools District write the child’s goals and placement setting without parental input or even knowledge. The good thing about this part is that the parents must agree to it and sign it. Often parents including me just sign the IEP which has the setting and how many minutes your child will get in a special classroom and in the general education classroom. I have never really paid attention to this before and always assumed the school must know what is best for my child and just signed it. Big mistake – never assume that. Always read the IEP, understand what your rights are under the IDEIA law and ask questions. If the school can not answer your questions – let that be a red flag for you. Some of the questions my son’s school could not answer were – how do you collect progress monitoring data, can I get that data, does the data make sense, has my child learned what was in his previous IEP and can I observe my child while you are teaching.

If the school can not answer such simple answers – worry. If they get defensive – worry more. If they get their lawyer involved – be happy because then you know you hit a nerve and they most likely broke some part of the federal IDEIA law. Now – be happy but get organized and learn more about the IDEIA law, find out what they violated, file a complaint with the state department education, with the state human rights department, and/or with the state teaching board. Think about this – if you don’t fight for your child – who will? I assure you the school ain’t. More importantly look at it as a marathon not a sprint. As I said before – don’t let them overwhelm you with technical language. Take your time and educate yourself which will empower you, and fight for your kid at your own pace.

First – the school district must as the law states provide and do an appropriate evaluation of your child. So, what does this mean?

A. The evaluation must be done by a team of knowledgeable and trained evaluators, must utilize sound evaluation materials and procedures, and must be administered on a non-discriminatory basis. Often, this does not happen. I have asked my son’s school evaluators – what tools and assessments they used and they could not answer that or simply did not use any. I have asked how they measured progress and they had no idea. If you don’t know what the child learned – how the heck can you possibly write any new IEP goals. Stupid, right?

B. The laws has parent participation in the IEP team and in the placement decision. Again, I have seen where school districts simply don’t follow this. They decide what to teach and where to teach it and just give you the IEP to sign. – Please don’t sign and tell them to take a flying leap – ok maybe not in those words – fine use Minnesota nice words or passive aggressive. I personally don’t like to sugar-coat.

C. The IDEIA law emphasizes strongly on children learning in the least-restrictive learning environment – meaning with their typical peers and mimicking real life. Separate but equal did not work before and will not work now for any child especially one with autism where generalization is crucial.

So what are the settings and how do they work?

  1. Federal setting one states 0-21% in special education class, the rest of the time the child is learning with their typical peers or in general education.
  2. Federal setting two states 21-60% in special education class, the rest of the time the child is learning with their typical peers or in general education.
  3. Federal setting three states 60% or more in special education. In this setting, the child is taken to general classes as he can tolerate and as possible which is often written into the IEP. Note, if you don’t write the specifics into the IEP, the school will always use the excuse – we did not take him/her because today he/she was too hyper, too tired, too sleepy, it was snowing, the sky was green, yada and more stupid excuses.
  4. Federal setting four, this is a completely separate building where the child goes to special education class all of his/her time and does not see any typical kids. This is what we call the pipeline to prison especially for black boys. This is Harrison Education Center in Mpls where the district is more interested in getting money rather than teaching the child. This is where the buildings mimic a prison because there are so many locked doors, children learn from each-others bad behaviors. This is where children fail. This is where no parent should take their child to unless hell froze and pigs started flying. This is where they have the worst least caring teachers and staff. This is where no one cares about the child or the family. THESE ARE THE FORGOTTEN CHILDREN WHO ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY MINORITIES ESPECIALLY BLACK BOYS. In real life such as grocery stories, parks, malls, etc. there is no separate section, so if the child is segregated and locked up all day – how exactly is he/she supposed to know appropriate behaviors when he/she leaves this segregated and separated hell hole setting. Think about it – when you go to Target – do you shop in a segregated section? So why would we teach any child in a segregated setting. Separate but equal did not work decades ago and it will not work now.
  5. Federal setting five is public hospital, day treatment, correctional facility, etc. These children are already in the criminal system and are disproportionately minorities. By the way level four is the gateway to level five for children.

If you are a parent whose child has autism, please speak for your child from every valley, river and mountain – no one else can do it better than you. Educated parents are empowered parents.

Read this as though it was fifty shades of grey.

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

Idil – Autism Mom