This article originally appeared in Education Post on May 18, 2020 by Courtney Vickers is the Director of Special Education at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, where she leads a team of SPED managers at the home office and supports Alliance's 28 middle and high schools.
At Alliance College-Ready Public Schools (Alliance) in Los Angeles, when we say that all scholars can learn and achieve, we mean all. That’s why, in 2018, we launched a multi-year organization-wide effort to ensure that every scholar, especially our English learners and scholars with disabilities, have equitable access to rigorous grade-level materials, social-emotional support, and mental health resources needed to meet their academic and career potential.
WE COULD EITHER CHOOSE TO PUT ALL SCHOLAR NEEDS FIRST OR DISREGARD THE NEEDS OF SCHOLARS WITH DISABILITIES AND ENGLISH LEARNERS
Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit and schools pivoted to distance learning, our network faced a stark choice of action or inaction regarding special support services, since special education policies were not explicitly mandated by the district or state. We could either choose to put all scholar needs first or disregard the needs of scholars with disabilities and English learners who represent 12% and 15% of Alliance’s 13,000 scholars, respectively.