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Moderate/Severe Special Education Staffing Decided at Santa Clara Unified

The Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Trustees spent a big part of the meeting in Closed Session but also made a major decision about Special Education staffing.

 

Special Education

The Board has been trying to figure out how to best serve their moderate/severe Special Education students. At the meeting on Thursday, May 12, Special Education Director Kathy Alaniz returned to the Board with an additional report about Special Education staffing. At a previous meeting, Vice President Vickie Fairchild pushed for an 8-1 ratio for moderate/severe classes and requested more information about staffing levels. Alaniz’s report compared staffing levels for 10, 9, and 8 class sizes.

Fairchild still favored staffing the moderate/severe classes for 8 students. “We’ve gotten feedback from nearly every Special Education teacher in the moderate/severe programs. They’re concerned about not meeting their kids’ needs. In some of our classrooms we have just too many children and we’ve had injuries…” said Fairchild. “In moderate/severe, 2 kids are the difference between people staying in the career or leaving.”

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After reviewing the new information, Board Member Andy Ratermann made a motion to go with a max of 8 students per teacher with 2 additional paraeducators.

Alaniz’s report showed that staffing for a class size of 8 would cost about $1.3 million, but Superintendent Dr. Stella Kemp reminded the Board that there were some costs that aren’t calculated in the report, like setting up additional classrooms.

The motion passed 6-0, with Board Member Dr. Michele Ryan abstaining. She said the process was wrong because the report was supposed to be an information item and come back later for action.

 

Financial Services

Business Official Mark Schiel presented information on a possible new Joint Powers Authority (JBA) for municipal advisory services, or financial services. SCUSD has the opportunity to join the JBA as a founding member which would give them a seat on the JBA’s board.

The JBA isn’t formed yet, but Schiel explained joining it would mean that all the school districts that are members could get financial services together. He thinks that this would be more cost-efficient.

Joining would be a 3-year commitment and there’s a $5,000 fee that would apply to services. The District currently uses Government Financial Strategies, Inc and has a great relationship with Lori Raineri. Scheil said Raineri has been part of the planning for this new JBA and, though he didn’t want to speak on her behalf, said she recommends joining the JBA.

Board Member Jim Canova was unsure about joining another JBA but respects Raineri’s opinion.

The Board gave Schiel direction to proceed with joining the JBA as a founding member. A resolution will come back to the next meeting.

 

Other Business

In closed session, the Board continued to evaluate Superintendent Dr. Kemp’s performance. Teachers, staff and parents spoke during public comment to talk about their negative experience with Dr. Kemp and ask the Board for new leadership. Some did come to Dr. Kemp’s defense.

Dr. Ryan asked the Board to consider conducting an independent third party 360 evaluation of the Board of Trustees. She’s concerned about Board Member behavior and has received reports about staff fearing retaliation and harassment for speaking out. However, the request failed.

The Board’s next meeting is on Thursday, May 26 at 6:30 p.m.

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10 Comments
  1. George W. 5 months ago
    Reply

    When is enough ENOUGH for Dr. Kemp? It seems that birds of feather fly together because the few times someone said something nice about the superintendent, Dr. Ryan was beaming. Is Dr. Ryan here to work for the students or for Dr. Kemp? Instead of a 360 evaluation on the board, Dr. Ryan should ask for one of the superintendent and her people.

    • Irony 5 months ago
      Reply

      The irony of the meeting was that Dr. Ryan retaliated againt the teachers union president for standing up to Dr. Kemp and then accused her fellow board members of retaliation.

  2. Teacher 5 months ago
    Reply

    Any reasonable person would resign but Dr Kemp cares about one person – herself. Her hand picked staff act exactly the same way, I work for one. Incompetent and makes teaching harder then it already is – nothing will change. Truly awful.

  3. Dr. William Conrad 5 months ago
    Reply

    There is no doubt that Santa Clara Unified is a school district driven by the cultural values of self above service to children and families as well as loyalty over competence. The District can not even assure that 1/2 of its third graders could read pre-pandemic. Only a little more than 1 out of 5 students with disabilities could read.

    Given the toxic culture in SCUSD, one should suspect any recommendations to class size for special education students. It is sure to be more alchemy than science. More self before service. And more loyalty over competence.

    Read The Fog of Education.

    • Aida 5 months ago
      Reply

      Yes! Kemp is only looking after herself and herself ONLY. Spending $4,000 to send “the letter” brought me back to the days of Trump and Betsey Devos. Trump selected his unqualified friends to be on his cabinet and liked to solve his problems by threatening with legal action much like Kemp did just recently.

  4. Dr. Bill Conrad 5 months ago
    Reply

    There is no doubt that Kemp is a lackey for the clown cart SCUSD Board. Anger should be directed at the Board for strong arming the effete superintendent to go for their illegitimate principal pick for Laurelwood. Always self above service and loyalty over competence. Read The Fog of Education!

  5. Anonymous Teacher 5 months ago
    Reply

    Readers beware: After a bit of online research regarding Dr. Bill Conrad, it is clear he is using this newspaper to pedal his self-pushed book (see above). Dr. Conrad used to work with the Santa Clara County Office of Education in the assessment and accountability department, although he is not currently listed as staff. In an online review of Santa Clara County Office of Education, he wrote: “For starters, they could improve openness and transparency to student outcomes and professional practices…. The SCCOE is a corrupt organization.” On Google Books, Dr. Conrad writes of his book: “I will tell a personal and hard-hitting story that exposes this organized crime network. I will share my hope in the youth who I will challenge to take agency in addressing the system that is letting them down in such profound ways. Unfortunately, most educators will not want to read this book as it presents issues that they do not acknowledge let alone work to address. This is not your typical feel-good education book. It is meant to inspire the families and children to rise up to address the educational abomination within their midst.” This is the road we need or want to go down in Santa Clara Unified. Please do not let this poster, who has the right to free speech, cloud and distract us from the issue at hand.

  6. Anonymous Teacher 5 months ago
    Reply

    Edited Post: Readers beware: After a bit of online research regarding Dr. Bill Conrad, it is clear he is using this newspaper to pedal his self-pushed book (see above). Dr. Conrad used to work with the Santa Clara County Office of Education in the assessment and accountability department, although he is not currently listed as staff. In an online review of Santa Clara County Office of Education, he wrote: “For starters, they could improve openness and transparency to student outcomes and professional practices…. The SCCOE is a corrupt organization.” On Google Books, Dr. Conrad writes of his book: “I will tell a personal and hard-hitting story that exposes this organized crime network. I will share my hope in the youth who I will challenge to take agency in addressing the system that is letting them down in such profound ways. Unfortunately, most educators will not want to read this book as it presents issues that they do not acknowledge let alone work to address. This is not your typical feel-good education book. It is meant to inspire the families and children to rise up to address the educational abomination within their midst.” This is NOT the road we need or want to go down in Santa Clara Unified. Please do not let this poster, who has the right to free speech, cloud and distract us from the issue at hand.

  7. Concerned Community Member 5 months ago
    Reply

    Aida, you are only looking out for your own interests. Because you and your friends demanded building a school for 300 students that DO NOT exist, the District is now wasting $30million that could have been used on other projects. We have had enough of the “Santa Clara Way” of bullying and harrassing staff to get what you want. Most staff support Dr. Kemp. YOU are the minority and we have had enough of YOU and your Board member friends that only care about Laurelwood.

    • Please read the article 5 months ago
      Reply

      I don’t think that you watched the board meeting or read the article. Perhaps you should do that before attacking others. If the article is too long, just read the headline.

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