State clears Sweetwater on special ed
Regulators find the district’s diplomas aren’t unequal
By Tanya Sierra
San Diego Union Tribune
March 2, 2011
A state investigation into whether the Sweetwater school district gave substandard diplomas to certain students and did not provide them readily available college preparatory classes has found the district to be in compliance.
Officials in the Sweetwater Union High School District noted the findings this week, including three lesser issues in which they were found to be out of compliance.
“When someone throws a black cloud over the hard work of the district, it’s really unfair,” Superintendent Jesus Gandara said.
In October, two retired special education teachers filed a complaint with the State Department of Education claiming parents were never informed that diplomas offered by newly created Bounce Back Independent Study High School are considered of a lower tier by the military because it is not a traditional high school.
They also said special education students did not have access to the complete sequence of college prep courses necessary to get into college. That coursework includes foreign language, lab sciences and finite math.
State representatives met with Sweetwater teachers, counselors, students and administrators over two days in November. They returned in January.
Through various interviews and reviews, the state found Sweetwater offers standard diplomas for all students.
The state did find Sweetwater out of compliance in three areas.
They include not having a consistent process in place at all independent study high schools to allow students access to the general orcollege preparatory curriculum; not filling out the proper paperwork for student program changes and not including parents or other required attendees in meetings about student’s individual education plans.
Fran Brinkman, one of the retired teachers who filed the complaint, said she sees the state report as a victory.
“The district was found in noncompliance, and that speaks for itself,” she said. “We pointed these issues out and they didn’t want to deal with them, that’s why we filed a complaint.”...