Sunday, January 3, 2010

Attn. Woodstock D200 Parents

Do you have a child in the Age 18-21 Transition Program of Woodstock District 200 School District? Or a child in Special Education in Woodstock? Or know someone who does? If so, I'd like to hear from you.

The Age 18-21 Program is for students in special education who have earned their credits for their diploma but who have elected to take a Certificate, in order to remain eligible for special education services until the day before their 22nd birthday.

The program in D200 has three tiers, and the student is supposed to progress through them, becoming more independent as each year passes. The classes are conducted in the morning at McHenry County College. Most of the Transition students are not college students; the classes merely meet at MCC.

One thought is that by meeting at MCC, the students are supposed to begin having the college experience. But is that the case? Do they really just meet at the College for classes? If that's the case, why not meet in a D200 building?

It seems to me that the word "inclusion" does not exist in the vocabulary of the D200 Special Education Department. Special Education students are supposed to be included in mainstream activities. For high school students is this really done, or are they mostly kept isolated from mainstream students?

The Transition students could be integrated into MCC activities by assisting them in enrolling in and being successful in MCC classes and activities. Instead, D200 has chosen a hands-off position. A D200 Transition Program teacher cannot be in contact with the MCC instructor regarding a student's progress.

This needs to change in District 200. But it will only change after all parents of Transition students learn what is really going on and provide input to the D200 Special Education Department.

I would like to see a support group for parents of students in Special Education get established in District 200. I would like for it to parent-led. Most parents of Special Education students have learned a fair amount about IEPs and Special Education laws. We who have slugged through the system for 12 years have tried to get permanent improvements made, so that parents who follow won't have such a hard time. But we wonder whether we have achieved that.

There are over 1,000 Special Education students in District 200. Most are K-12; some are the Transition Program students mentioned above.

Contact Gus Philpott at (N.B., one -t- in my AOL email address), so that an email distribution list can be built to inform you of developments. Please forward this to every parent of a special ed student in Woodstock District 200. The list will be used only for this purpose. Thanks!

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