The Battle to Improve Special Education

It’s been 40 years since the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act went into effect, and school districts across the country are still working to ensure that students with physical or cognitive impairments have access to educational opportunities that address their needs. In some places, lawsuits have forced districts to do more. In Part I of this report on special education in Los Angeles, we saw the impact of a 20-year class-action lawsuit, which has led to significant improvements for students with disabilities in the nation’s second largest school district. In the past 3 years the district has focused more intently on inclusion, moving many students out of dedicated special education centers and into their regular neighborhood schools.

While many see this as a sign of progress, others see cause for concern. In Part II, we take a closer look. Linda Hilton’s son Brandon has attended one of these centers all his life because, she says, no other school in the district could meet his profound physical and medical needs.

Parents who support having their children in regular schools say they are not receiving the services they require. Is LAUSD moving too fast? What’s needed for large districts to educate students with the greatest needs?

Correspondent John Tulenko speaks with teachers, service providers, parents, students, and LAUSD’s director of special education to get the story.


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And check out Part I of The Battle to Improve Education, and our recent stories about parents’ efforts to advocate for better services for their children with special needs. There are additional resources and coverage on the topic on our website, and the On Special Education blog.

National PTA Releases Two New Position Statements

February 5, 2016

National PTA’s Board of Directors adopted two new position statements on positive school discipline and assessment last week.

  • Position on positive school discipline states that exclusionary discipline practices should only be used in schools as a last resort effort and on an individualized basis in schools. Read the full statement
  • Position on student assessment and opt-out policies calls for all students to participate in high-quality, comprehensive assessments. Read the full statement

Military Family Life Consultants (MFLC)

Through a collaboration with The Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Military Community and Family Policy, Duval County Public Schools, and NS Mayport and NAS Jacksonville, Military Family Life Consultants (MFLC’s) have been provided to 12 Duval County Public Schools. The consultants’ services are designed to offer extra support to assist with the unique challenges which military families’ experience.

The primary focus of the Military & Family Life Counseling Program is prevention, education, and counseling support. The services are provided confidentially and no case records or documentation is kept. The consultants do not assess or diagnose, and when they encounter more in depth issues/diagnoses, they offer to connect military families with other helping agencies available on the installation or in the community. While meeting with children, MFLC’s always remain in line of sight of a teacher, staff member, or a parent.

The consultants are licensed clinicians who have demonstrated expertise in working with children. They can provide short-term non-medical counseling support in a variety of different ways: individual meetings with children, presentations about life skills issues, skill-building group discussions, and meetings with parents and families at the family’s request for additional counseling/coaching support.

Some of the common issues that CYB MFLCs help with include the following:

  • stress management and coping skills
  • anger management/conflict resolution
  • deployment and reintegration issues
  • feelings associated with separation and divorce
  • grief and loss reactions
  • self-esteem and confidence
  • communication skills
  • leadership skills

The seven MFLC’s have been assigned to work in the following schools:

  • Finegan Elementary: Ruthanne Wing with school counselor Donna Davis,
  • Mayport Elementary and Jax Beach Elementary: Susan Schanen with school counselors Melissa Hammond and Carla Crumley-Forest,
  • Mayport Middle: Robyn Ashburn with school counselor Adrienne Wakefield,
  • Venetia Elementary and John Stockton Elementary: Cheryl Alvarado with school counselors Na’toria Campbell and Cheryle Roman,
  • Oceanway Middle and San Mateo Elementary: Willie Lott with school counselors Amelia Williams and Duane Monte,
  • New Berlin Elementary and Sheffield Elementary: Shelley Rosen with school counselors Marisa Negron and Ginger Brown, and
  • Enterprise Learning Academy and Chimney Lakes Elementary: Diona Moody with school counselors Ellen Golden and Shelia Handress.

The school program model is designed to provide an informal context in which children can access a behavioral consultant in a non-threatening and supportive environment. MFLCs circulate throughout the school facility making themselves available in classrooms, libraries, staff lounges, athletic events and other areas as identified. By virtue of these efforts to become integrated into the day to day fabric of the school, the consultant becomes the friendly face on the playground, the compassionate listener in the lunchroom, and an objective resource to teachers and staff alike.

All military families will be given the opportunity to consent for their children to participate in this free service or to opt-out. For more information about MFLC services, contact your school to request the direct number for the MFLC on campus.

Or you can contact Judy Cromartie the School Liaison Officer for NS Mayport or Dawn Mills the School Liaison Officer for NAS Jax. As a military parent, if you have questions about this program or concerns about an educational issue impacting your child, they can be reached via email at or by phone at (904) 270-6289 X1305 [office] or or by phone at (904) 778-2236.

Judy Cromartie, School Liaison Officer
NS Mayport
(904) 270-6289 x1305