Parents of special needs student advocate in Sacramento

DOWNEY - A large number of parents of children with special needs, representing school districts across California, visited Sacramento last month in an effort to speak with legislators about special education policy, increased advocacy for special needs students and Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget as it relates to special education funding.The delegation visited the state capitol on Legislative Awareness Day, sponsored each May 1 by the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) Administrators, a state network of SELPA directors. Downey was represented by Ray Guillleaume, director of the Downey-Montebello SELPA, which collectively represents the unified school districts of Downey, Montebello, Lynwood, Paramount and Bellflower. Also in attendance were Rebekah Ruswick, senior program specialist of the Downey-Montebello SELPA, and parents Patty Salgado, Cyndi Salcedo, Edith Ornelas and Sonia Saucillo. The delegation met with Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, Sen. Ricardo Lara and Sen. Ron Calderon. The mothers shared their personal stories of supporting their children with special needs throughout the education process and urged the legislators to approve a 5-year extension of SB 946, a senate bill requiring state-regulated health plans to cover behavioral health treatments, among other services, to children with autism. Also discussed was continued mental health funding for local school districts and hands-on "workability" training for high school students.

********** Published: June 6, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 08