Educate Georgia!

  • by: Carmen Allen
  • target: Governor Sonny Perdue, Governor, Governor of Georgia
Educate Georgia Campaign!


Children with Special Needs and their Parents want to be “equal” partners in the education of “their” children.


Recently, Georgia Dept. of Education, Division of Exceptional Students has proposed changes to the Special Education Rules, which will be effective July 2007, unless we speak up!  

Many of the proposed changes will negatively affect Children with Special Needs, their parents and education in our communities throughout Georgia.

The following petition is the collected voice of Concerned Public Citizens and Parents of Children with Special Needs.

We the undersigned, hereby agree by adding our signature to this petition, that we are not in agreement  with the 2007 Proposed changes to Special Education Rules and Regulations, as proposed by the Georgia Department of Education, 

Division of Exceptional Students. 

The proposed changes will NEGATIVELY affect the education of Children with Special Needs and communities in Georgia.

In addition, we, the concerned Public Citizens and Parents of Children with Special Needs propose the following changes:

Adoption of Proposed changes, as contained in this petition, to improve the educational results for Children with Special Needs throughout Georgia. 

Make Parents “equal” partners in education. 
Give us a place at the table when making decisions about our
 Children with Special Needs.

Georgia Leaders, we are asking you to change the course of Georgia’s Education! 

Educate Georgia! We, the Undersigned, endorse the following petition: 

Don't stay the course in Education!

Parents want change in Georgia's Education System!

We need the help of Georgia Leaders to help Georgia’s Children with Special Needs obtain an equal education!
 

Recently, Georgia Dept. of Education, Exceptional Children’s Division proposed changes to the Special Education Rules & Regulations for 2007.  It is our opinion, that many of the proposed changes will negatively impact the education of Children with Special Needs and our communities in Georgia. 

We, the Parents of Children with Special Needs and concerned Public Citizens want our “voices” heard: 

        No! to the proposed 2007 changes to the Rules and Regulations for Children with Special Needs in Georgia, as the public and parents have not been given the opportunity to review the changes, nor included in the decision making process of the proposed changes.
        Parents need to be informed, and included in all decisions regarding providing an appropriate and identifying the “unmet” and “unique” needs of their Children with Special Needs.
        Georgia’s School Systems must recognize that Parents are the “experts” on the “unique” needs of their Child with Special Needs.
        Georgia’s School Systems must not retaliate against Parents, Students or Advocates who assert their rights.   
        Georgia’s School Systems must not retaliate against Educators, who express concern and request additional support and resources from Georgia‘s educational System to meet the needs of Children with Special Needs by providing Free Appropriate Public Education.
        Georgia’s School System must not retaliate against Home schooling Parents, who request and need services for their Children with Special Needs.
        Georgia’s public school teachers will not conduct comprehensive evaluations for children with special needs and assessments unless they hold the required training, qualifications and licensures to administer such an evaluative tool.  
        Georgia’s school systems will recognize Georgia's licensed medical professionals as "experts" in disabilities that negatively impact education. 
        Georgia School systems will not diagnose disorders they are not qualified or trained to identify, as disorders are a part of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, used by Medical Practioners.  
        ALL of Georgia’s children with special needs will be provided an education in the least restrictive environment possible upon entering the public school system. 
        Georgia’s school system must not place or change a child’s placement to a more restrictive environment prior to providing the maximum support for the child to benefit unless it is the parent’s expressed agreement or request. 
        Placement decisions and recommendations for Georgia’s children will follow a sequence of “least to most “ and provide the maximum support necessary for the child to benefit in the environment. 
        Georgia’s school systems will implement a Positive Behavior Plan for ALL children (including children with autism and emotional behavior disorders) with behavioral special needs prior to recommend a placement other than the least restrictive environment.  
        Georgia’s school system will not implement or modify Behavior intervention plans without the notification, consent, and participation of parents of children with special needs.
        Georgia’s Educational System will not ADD the category of children with Autism to the eligibility requirements served in Psychoeducational Centers. 
         Georgia's Educational System will rule out Autism, before labeling a child with an Emotional Behavior Disorder.
        Georgia’s children with special needs will not be placed in Psychoeducational centers without required and specific documentation and diagnosis provided by a medical physician and the expressed agreement and consent of the child’s parents.  
         Parents will be entitled to an Independant Educational Evaluation and will not be threatened with Due Proccess in order to avoid providing a child with a second opinion. 

        Georgia’s Children must not be placed in any program without the express permission of their parents
        Georgia’s Parent input regarding the “unique” needs of their Child with Special Needs “must” be “seriously” considered and “added” to the IEP.
        Georgia’s School Systems must take “accurate” minutes and the minutes shall not become a part of the IEP until the Parent has the opportunity to review the minutes and agree they are correct.
        Georgia’s School System staff are not permitted to alter IEP documentation in student files, without parental consent and notification.
        Georgia’s School Systems must not violate the right to Privacy under HIPPA of Children with Special Needs or their Parents and Advocates
        Georgia’s Children with Special Needs that are home schooled must have the same opportunity to the needed services as any other Child with Special Needs in the schools jurisdiction.   
        Georgia’s School Systems must inform parents of their rights to Early Resolution of their complaints.
        Georgia’s Children with Special Needs
must include in ALL programs, just as their non-disabled peers, and will be provided the necessary support to enjoy the same privileges and benefits of children without special needs.  This includes Band, PE, lunch, art, music, school sports, plays, school dances, school events (dances, ceremonies, award programs, recitals, plays, concerts, and “field day”) and any other activity a Child with Special Needs has the right to participate in.
        Georgia’s School Systems will not suspend or expel a Child prior to providing the maximum support required including, but not limited to a “positive” Behavior Intervention first. 
        Georgia’s Education Monitoring will be performed by unbiased individuals, not chosen by the school system staff. 
        Georgia’s State Advisory Panel will be comprised of a majority of parents of children with special needs or individuals with disabilities that are not employed nor have benefit from Georgia’s Educational System.
        Georgia Department of Education will not be responsible for choosing the members of the State Advisory Panel, as the State Advisory Panel serves as an advisory board to the Georgia Department of Education.  If Georgia Dept. of Education makes the decision as to the members on the panel, this may lead to choosing only persons that agree with the Georgia Department of Education to be placed on the panel. Limiting and restricting the public and the participation of Parents of Children with Special Needs that are not employed nor have financial gain from Georgia’s Educational System.  
        Georgia’s School Systems will not pursue Compulsory Attendance/Truancy or other legal matters in retaliation when provided with a signed medical excuse from school by a licensed medical practitioner. 
        Georgia’s school system must not lower the standards and expectations to grade level when the student’s abilities exceed grade level. 
        Georgia’s school system will not use restraints or any or methods of humiliation not used with the without written and expressed consent and agreement with the parent of the child with special needs.
        Georgia’s school system staff will not retaliate against parents of children with special needs or advocates by slandering or portraying them in a negative manner to other school system staff and or educational leaders.
        Georgia’s school systems will provide parents of children with special needs adequate and proper PRIOR WRITTEN NOTICE as required by Federal law within 10 days of a parent’s written request.
        Georgia’s school systems do not have the authority to disagree with a medical doctor’s diagnosis or deny meeting the needs of any child with special needs that affects their education, unless the school System has a licensed medical physician on staff and parents written agreement to do so. 
        Georgia’s educational system must not intimidate teachers, or provide them erroneous and inaccurate information about the rights of children with special needs and their parents.
        Georgia’s educational system must provide teachers with the necessary support needed for children with special needs to be provided access to an education in the least restrictive environment.
        

This list is not inclusive of all the proposed resolutions, as the DOE has not given the public ample due notice, nor time to the public citizens or Parents of Children with Special Needs Notice time to review all the proposed changes for 2007.

The Georgia DOE Division of Exceptional Students has not highlighted all the proposed changes, in order for us to review and comment on the proposed changes.  
 
We first need to inform our Leaders of our concerns:

Many Children with Special Needs across the state of Georgia are not receiving a Free Appropriate Public Education.  There are over 190,000 Children with Special Needs served with an IEP in Georgia, Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP) of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) only accounts for 60% (114,000) of Children with Special Needs in Georgia.  Only 32% of Children with Special Needs graduate with a “regular” diploma.  The drop out rate for Children with Special Needs "increased" in 2005-2006.  Children with Special Needs deserve an equal education, high standards and the opportunity to achieve according to “their abilities”.  Children with Special Needs should make the same amount of progress as any other child if they are able to.  Don’t set limits on our Children with Special Needs; they too have gifts to contribute to society. 

Have rising expectations for our most vulnerable children, and give them the same opportunity as their non disabled peers to become productive and respected citizens in our schools, communities and society.  

As tax payers it us our RIGHT to be involved and participate in partnership with school systems involving our children’s education, as an EQUAL team member.  Our input has VALUE, as parents, and Georgia’s educational system must not have the authority to make decisions about children with special needs without agreement from parents and guardians. 

NOW is the TIME to UNITE our VOICES and STAND for the RIGHTS of our children, and send a message to our leaders that NO! We do not agree with Georgia’s proposed changes to the rules and regulations that will negatively impact nearly 200,000 students with special needs throughout Georgia.  Parent involvement and collaboration is absolutely necessary for Georgia to repair it’s broken educational system and ensure NO CHILD IS LEFT BEHIND.   It is the hope that the results of this petition will reach those who lead Georgia by validating the concerns and voice of Georgia’s Parents of Children with Special Needs and Concerned Public Citizens.  Those who sign also hope to inspire compassion in our Leaders to work toward resolution of the Education crisis that has compromised and negatively affected the lives and future of our most vulnerable: 
Georgia's Children with Special Needs in our communities.

The deadline for this petition is January 19, 2006. 
Let’s work together and make our concerns known to our Leaders. 

There are many that care about the plight of Georgia's Children with Special Needs: Parents, Educators, and Leaders alike.  The information on this Petition, especially the comments, will help our Leaders understand the day-to-day challenges facing Georgia's Children with Special Needs, their families and educators.  Please sign and pass this Petition along to others. 

You can make a difference!  This Petition will be presented to our Leaders and you will have played a part in improving the lives and education of Children with Special Needs, their families and strengthening Georgia's communities by helping to develop a better Education System to meet the “unmet” needs of Children with Special Needs.

Join the Educate Georgia Campaign! in order to change and improve the course of education in Georgia!    
 


Thank you for your time and consideration.

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