THOUSAND OAKS : Council Assesses Special Education

Special education programs in the Conejo Valley Unified School District won high marks from parents in a new survey conducted by a school board advisory panel.

More than 90% answered "yes" when asked if the district meets their child's academic needs, treats them courteously, and responded to their questions when they were first referred.

But the Special Education Advisory Council found room for improvement and will use the results of the survey to improve opportunities for their children.

The study, distributed to 1,700 special education parents in the district, indicates that they are, for the most part, satisfied with the programs and services provided.

But council President Larry Goesch said his group has formed committees to address areas where the district falls short.

The committees--made up of parents, educators and administrators--have goals of improving communication with, accountability for and treatment of special education students.

"We are providing the feedback part of the loop, coming up with an analysis of the root cause of the problem and recommending a plan of action to the school district," Goesch said.

For instance, Goesch said, the council recently began to provide child care at its meetings, after parents said on the survey that they could not attend because they could not find baby sitters.

About 300 parents returned the survey, which was distributed in the spring to gauge the feelings of special education parents in the district, which has begun to integrate children with special needs into mainstream classes in recent years.

Parents who wish to become involved in special education issues can attend the next advisory council meeting Oct. 18. The meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month at 6:45 p.m. at Madrona Elementary School.

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