In 2017, the percentage of special education students (with IEP's) in all schools in San Mateo County was 11.72%, and the percentage of students who qualified as English language learners was 23% (See 2017 SMCOE Annual Report).
The percentage of the 274 students who were served by the San Mateo County Office of Education's Juvenile Court and Community Schools during the 2018-19 school year (as of May 1, 2019) in special education students (with IEP's) was 39% - more than 300% the average number of special education students countywide, and the percentage of students who were English language learners was 60% - more than 200% the average number of English language learner students countywide.
*State data shows that students with disabilities (special education students) are TWICE as likely to be suspended and expelled from their Districts.
I believe that we should be looking at the root causes for this overrepresentation for expelled and incarcerated youth, such as the biases underlying these data sets, whether we're failing to meet the underlying needs of students which may then result in "behaviors" we punish, potential alternatives to our primarily reactive and rigid school discipline systems & other factors that may help us to address this very clear connection to the well-documented "school-to-prison pipeline" for minority students and students with disabilities.
There are currently no available psychiatric emergency beds for children in San Mateo County. There are some for adolescents, but if you're younger than 12, there are none.
Children do have psychiatric disability (aka mental health) diagnoses in our County and if and when there is a need to call 911 or visit an ER in a crisis situation, if the child needs to be hospitalized (usually pursuant to a 5150), the child is typically transported by ambulance to another County's facility when a bed opens up in these out-of-county hospitals... in Fremont, Sacramento, Vallejo and a couple of other locations.
A visit to the ER, while often necessary for safety, is traumatic for a child, and he or she is often re-traumatized by the transport to another facility, sometimes more than a day after arriving at the ER, alone in an ambulance, to then await parent visits during hospital "visiting hours," which are fairly restrictive in psychiatric wards.
*Supporting kids with these types of disabilities is an education issue because these children are often students in our public schools who often have IEPs, 504 Plans or Educationally Related Mental Health Services [ERHMS] in place, or should have in place. ERMHS are the sole responsibility of school districts since 2011 under AB 114.
The lack of child psychiatric facilities in San Mateo County has been raised for a number of years by the San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) Commission, under their oversight of Mental Health Service Act (MHSA) funds to implement programs and provide facilities in our County. The gap remains today, but I am hopeful that this issue can be prioritized soon, as health & education advocates continue to work together to ensure that adequate and appropriate mental health supports are available for kids in our County.
This is certainly one of my goals for collaboration and impact if I am elected to the San Mateo County Board of Education in 2020.
In the meantime, I am working to bring awareness of these needs as a member of the San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities (CoD), as Co-Chair of the CoD's Youth & Family Committee, as the CoD's liaison to the BHRS Commission, and as a parent of a child with a mental health disability who has been subject to the implications of our County's gap in facilities and services.
There is a lot to know about education in San Mateo County. Many of the of statistics are surprising, but we need to know what's going on if we want to make real change... Day One... more to come.
San Mateo County Office of Education, 2017 Report to the Community, page 30
As I have been meeting with community members and local officials to discuss a variety of educational issues related to my Campaign for San Mateo County Board of Education, I have realized a need to supplement our shared knowledge around educational issues, locally and beyond. To help with this, I have created a website and Blog to provide some background and information on relevant educational issues. I am doing this in parallel with my campaign outreach. You can find the start of this project at http://www.educatesmc.com. I will be updating this on a regular basis and adding Blog posts as well. Enjoy!
It was a terrific weekend at the California Democratic Party's (CADEM) Executive Board Meetings in San Jose, where I attended as the elected AD22 ADEM Executive Board Representative. I have been an AD22 Delegate since 2015 and the EBoard Rep since 2017. The Executive Board was joined by (and included) new Committee Members, County Party Chairs, other AD22 Delegates and Delegates from around the State to do the work of the Party in its Caucuses and Committees. We approved recommended positions on Legislative Bills, Resolutions, Amendments to our Party's Rules and Bylaws, and much more. I love participating in this process and discussing important issues from education to immigration, our climate crisis and civil rights. If you are interested in finding out more about this work or how you can get involved or attend these mostly open meetings, feel free to let me know!
It was my honor to be invited by my friend and Democratic activist, Sallye McKenzie, to speak about Education and Democracy at the Coastside United for Action meeting in Pacifica last night. What a terrific group! They are partnering with Sister District, working in their community and beyond to further candidates and initiatives. I talked about my son and our experience with the public school system, special education, and mental health supports. I shared insights about the role of the County Board of Education, what I hope to accomplish if elected, and how I plan to approach it. The questions were insightful and I really enjoyed the evening. Many thanks to Sallye for inviting me to speak!