California Safe Schools & Learning Disabilities Association of Orange County Host Advocacy Workshop for Special Needs Children

May 07, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Rancho Cucamonga, CA - On Saturday, May 13th, parents of children with
special needs in the Inland Empire will have the opportunity to learn about civil and special education laws that protect their children.

Recognizing the need for further parent training and environmental
education, California Safe Schools and the Learning Disabilities Association
of Orange County, are organizing a free Parent Workshop at the Goldy S.
Lewis Community Center in the city of Rancho Cucamonga.

Topics will include laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act, the American with Disabilities Act, California's
anti-discrimination state laws related to individuals with disabilities, and
the Healthy Schools Act 2000.

"Parents need this information in order to advocate effectively for their children," said Robina Suwol, Executive Director of California Safe Schools, an organization dedicated to the protection of children and the environment. "As scientists continue to find more links between environmental toxins and human health, it is our duty to protect the most vulnerable, our children. Special needs children are even more vulnerable."

Andrea Woore, a parent of children with special needs, affirms the need
for this kind of learning opportunity. "Parents of children with special needs often lack information and resources to make educational decisions for their children, thereby experiencing a great deal uncertainty and confusion. The special education system is a complicated maze to most parents. I was in the system for ten years before finding out about the Community Advisory Committee which is an advisory group to the special education local plan area."

Unlike their non-disabled peers, children with disabilities are not solely subject to California content curriculum standards. Their educational program is dictated by an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The IEP is under the purview of a "team" made up of administrators, educators, psychologists, speech therapists, resource specialists and the parents. A parent may become overwhelmed by the amount of technical information presented. Additionally, parents may feel pressured to make quick decisions on matters they do not fully understand.

"Parents have to be a jack-of-all-trades at IEP meetings, not only are we asked to make educational decisions but have to understand complicated laws that protect our children's rights. This workshop will not answer every question but will give parents bite size information they can later research more fully as the need arises," said Rita Loof, one of the collaborators.

"Information is power, and gaining access to the kind of information
parents need can be difficult," added Senator Nell Soto (D - Pomona). "The
workshop will broaden parents' base of knowledge and give them additional
tools to ensure that the needs of their children are met."

Supporting organizations include:

o California Safe Schools
o Catholic Daughters of America-Our Lady of Fatima Court
o Future Horizons
o Granite Creek Women of Grace Special Needs Ministry
o Learning Disabilities Association of Orange County
o Team of Advocates for Special Kids

The all-day workshop will be held on Saturday May 13th at the Goldy S.
Lewis Community Center at 11200 Base Line Road in the city of Rancho
Cucamonga at 8:30 a.m. For reservations contact Andrea Woore, 909-980-1873.

For further information contact Robina Suwol, Executive Director of
California Safe Schools 818-785-5515.