Daily News Archive
From May 12, 2006
Workshop for Parents of Special Needs Children
The topics will include laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the American with Disabilities Act, California's anti-discrimination state laws related to individuals with disabilities, and the Healthy Schools Act 2000, and Assembly Bill AB 405 ( Montanez) sponsored by California Safe Schools, signed by Governor Schwarzenegger on October 6, 2005 (see Daily News).
"Parents need this information in order to advocate effectively for their children," said Robina Suwol, executive director of California Safe Schools, an organization dedicated to the protection of children and the environment. "As scientists continue to find more links between environmental toxins and human health, it is our duty to protect the most vulnerable, our children. Special needs children are even more vulnerable." Pesticide exposure can adversely affect a child's neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine system, even at low levels.
Andrea Woore, a parent of children with special needs, affirmed the need to have a learning opportunity of this type. "Parents of children with special needs often lack information and resources to make the most beneficial educational decisions for their children, thereby experiencing a great deal of uncertainty and confusion. The special education system is a complicated maze to most parents. I was in the system for ten years before finding out about the Community Advisory Committee, an advisory group created for the special education local plan area."
Unlike their non-disabled peers, children with disabilities are not solely subject to California content curriculum standards. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) also dictates the direction of their educational program. The IEP is under the purview of a "team" made up of administrators, educators, psychologists, speech therapists, resource specialists and the parents. A parent may become overwhelmed by the amount of technical information presented. Additionally, parents may feel pressured to make quick decisions on matters they do not fully understand.
"Information is power, and gaining access to the kind of information parents need can be difficult," added Senator Nell Soto (D - Pomona). Mr. Soto continued, "The workshop will broaden parents' knowledge base and give them additional tools to ensure that the needs of their children are met."
Supporting organizations include: