Is DJUSD Out of Compliance with Special Ed Laws?

specialeducationEditor’s note: the following was submitted as an open letter to the DJUSD School Board.  According to her, “The District was found out of compliance by the California Department of Education in August 2015 after I filed a complaint regarding the inability of School Psychologist Tim Paulson to provide IEP services for my son who has Autism (Asperger’s) even though the former IEP assessment clearly showed he qualified for the services.”  Views expressed are solely those of the letter writer.

Dear School Board Members,

My name is Jessica Wright.

I am the mother of a young man who is in 11th grade at Davis Senior High School.

My son is on the Autism Spectrum (or has what’s formally known as Asperger’s), and is a really amazing guy!

We had a late diagnosis at the age of 12 while living in Upstate New York. We returned back to Northern California because I grew up nearby, and wanted to be closer to my family.

I felt the students in the Davis area would not bully my son as well as be open-minded about the uniqueness of his disability.

Thankfully, this has proved true; however, I encountered one of the most unprofessional administrators (School Psychologist Tim Paulson), and that’s why I’m contacting the School Board.

Mr. Paulson created the most exhausting, stressful, illegal, and ridiculous roadblocks, so my son—even though he qualified for an IEP in his first assessment—had to go through 1 1/2 years of struggles before an IEP was awarded because of Mr. Paulson disregard for the IDEA and FAPE rules.

Believe it or not, the IEP process didn’t start off that way.

Originally, Peggy Holcomb did the IEP Assessment in September 2012 while my son was at Emerson, but then we relocated a month later due to my husband’s job. We were not able to finalize the IEP at Emerson, and my son’s new school only gave him a 504.

Due to the lack of the IEP at the new school, my son’s needs were not met (and he was emotionally overwhelmed), so we came back to Emerson because Peggy Holcomb had shown a high level of competency.

We returned to Emerson Junior High in the Fall 2013, and I asked to revisit the IEP assessment because the 504 wasn’t working.

Unfortunately, Peggy Holcomb was no longer there, and the new school psychologist Tim Paulson brushed off my son’s disability.

Over the course of the next year and a half, we tried to secure the IEP instead of the 504 (which wasn’t working), but Paulson failed to follow the law.

(Please see the CDE Reconsideration Investigation Report Case R-0042-15/16 for S-0812-14/15 that should be on file in the District Office. That will explain this time frame of problems in more depth.)

My son finally received an IEP in January 2015 (or the start of the second half of his 9th grade year) even though in September 2012 Peggy Holcomb clearly said that my son qualified for Special Ed in the first IEP assessment.

Two years later, Paulson used almost the exact phrasing as Holcomb when he filled out the IEP assessment.

Paulson chose not to give my son an IEP even though the qualification was in front of him the whole time. In addition, the California Department of Education agreed that he was out of compliance in the above investigation Case R-0042-15/16 for S-0812-14/15.

I’m writing today because there’s proof at the State Level that a person like Paulson should not be employed by the DJUSD, as he has clearly failed to show respect for a student under his watch. He clearly did not follow the rules, and so the DJUSD was found to be out of compliance with regards to Special Education.

His actions (or lack thereof) made it so my son and our family had to go through levels of stress that no family should ever have to endure (especially in Davis).

My question for the Board: Why hasn’t Paulson been dismissed yet?

Instead Paulson was moved from Emerson to DSIS last academic year, and then to Willett Elementary for this academic year.

The Final Finding of the Compliance Investigation clearly showed that he did not uphold his duties of a school psychologist, and thus this failure created hardships on my son, and us as a family.

In addition, I’ve heard of other parents complaining about Paulson.

Thankfully, my son is doing much better now that we have an IEP in place (and a wonderful Case Manager), but those formative years of 8th and 9th grade are lost. We cannot get those years back. Ever. My hope—by writing this letter—is that future students and their parents don’t have to go through the hell we experienced.

My son is intelligent enough to go on to a UC, but after all that chaos he has lowered his standards and dreams, and will probably do the junior college transfer route (which makes him feel less than around his classmates/peers).

Paulson’s failure to do his job has cost me as well.

During that time, I always had to be available because I never knew when my son was going to have an emotional breakdown due to his issues with school and grades. I had to go through these moment even though an easy solution of providing an IEP at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year could’ve been done; instead, it completely disregarded by Paulson.

For me, I lost out on working due to Paulson’s failure to do his job, and now, I’m even less hirable due to such an extended break in my work history. He also caused an unbelievable amount of stress on me that resulted in health issues often not seen in a person my age.

Paulson screwed up our lives, and he should no longer be employed by DJUSD, especially after the compliance finding.

I figured that Mr. McGrew, who is Paulson’s supervisor, would do the right thing, and dismiss Paulson, but that hasn’t happened yet. He still has a job while I do not, even though I helped my son more than Paulson ever did during those years.

Please do the right thing as well as also the monetarily smart thing, and dismiss Paulson from his position immediately, so no other student and their families have to go through such hardships.

He does not deserve the privilege to work with children who have Special Needs.

I send this with the deepest for the DJUSD, and the fellow parents with their students who have had to struggle in securing accommodations in a District that has been so obsessed with AIM that the twice exceptional students’ needs were often disregarded, as was the case for my son.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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90 thoughts on “Is DJUSD Out of Compliance with Special Ed Laws?”

  1. ryankelly

    Does she not know that many DHS graduates go the Community College transfer route – maybe 1/3 of the students?  Maybe it is her that is making her son feel less among his peers that he is no longer shooting for admission to a UC?

    1. Chamber Fan

      Perhaps but you seem to be ignoring the bigger issue which is her treatment and the lack of compliance by the district.  That he has recourse is aside from the point.

    2. wdf1

      District says 24% of DHS students go on to community college.  Having raised a kid who required (and obtained) an IEP district (it wasn’t easy to get, but not as challenging as described here), I think community colleges offer better accommodations for IEP situations than UC campuses.  I think a community college would be a better transition through transfer.  Many lower division UC classes are taught in large lecture halls, often with less access to assistance and accommodations.  My heart goes out to this mom.

    3. ryankelly

      Her son is in 11th grade, appears to be a successful student and looking forward to college, yet she is determined to have the District fire an employee over a difference in professional opinion from 3 years ago.

      There have been many children in Davis who have had difficulty during their years in Davis schools.  This is part of the dark underbelly of Davis.

      I think this is a precursor to her filing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the District.

      1. jwright

        Hello Ryan Kelly,

        This non-compliance by Paulson is not a difference in an opinion.

        Simply put, the school psychologist failed to do his job, which created very serious consequences for my son and our family.

        The California Department of Education found Paulson (and thus the DJUSD) to be out of compliance, so this issue isn’t a mere difference in opinion; he didn’t follow the law. That’s a fact.

        It’s my hope that by bringing this issue to light then the Board and the new Superintendent will guarantee that our current and future students will have school psychologists who will comply with the laws of the IDEA, so students do not have to struggle (as my son did) in receiving this right to free and appropriate education.

        I wonder how many more students (and their parents) have experienced this kind of lack of accountability in the DJUSD, thus perhaps that’s the root of the “dark underbelly” you wrote about in the above comment.

        Thank you,

        Jessica

      2. Chamber Fan

        “The Final Finding of the Compliance Investigation clearly showed that he did not uphold his duties of a school psychologist, and thus this failure created hardships on my son, and us as a family.”

        If true, your arguments are immaterial.

      3. skeptical

         
        ryankelly
         
        The legal process is rigged against justice.  Prior to filing a lawsuit, a plaintiff must exhaust all administrative remedies.  That means jumping through all of the costly, stressful, time consuming processes set up by government to protect government, not to pursue justice.  That it has taken 3 years and that someone is willing to publicly share such an experience should be all the proof you need. 
         
        If Ms. Wright pursues litigation, more power to her.  If she files a federal class action, I will see that she has all the evidence necessary to prevail.
         

        1. ryankelly

          But administrative remedies have already been sought and were successful.  Her son is a successful Junior at DHS with an IEP and is now looking at college plans.

          It seems the remedy she is now looking for is the firing of a District employee or money  for her difficulties with finding a position at UCD.  Do you really think that is fair?

        2. jwright

           

          Ryankelly,

          Pease tell me why you’re so interested in our story?

          Do you have children in the school district?

          Are you friends with Paulson?

          Have you ever worked with kids on the Autism Spectrum?

          With regards to your comment:

          No, the administrative remedies were not successful thus I wrote the letter.

          Dismissing a professional who caused the District to be out of compliance with Special Education laws (that’s a serious violation!) would show our community that they take pride in protecting the rights of those who have Special Needs just as much as they do for the AIM program.

          I truly hope that the School Board and the Superintendent will dismiss him immediately.

          Be well,

          Jessica

           

        3. ryankelly

          Thankfully, my son is doing much better now that we have an IEP in place (and a wonderful Case Manager)

          It sounds like it has been resolved by the District.

          Do you have children in the school district?  Not any more.

          Are you friends with Paulson?  No

          Have you ever worked with kids on the Autism Spectrum?  Yes

  2. Tia Will

    brushed off my son’s disability.”

    I cannot speak to the actions of Mr, Paulson since we have had no interactions. I can speak to the unevenness within the DJUSC with which serious mental illnesses and or/minority learning styles may be treated within our school system. My own son, who at one point was severely depressed with suicidal ideation fully recognized by school psychologist, admitted twice for this problem which was well documented and well known to all involved with his IEP….and yet, I was told by his academic counselor immediately following one of his IEP meetings that much of my son’s academic problems were “self inflicted” because of the amount of classes that he had “chosen” not to attend. I wish I had said what I thought at the time which was “Would you be saying this to the mother of a child hospitalized with cancer, or diabetes, or post operatively ?  Even after an IEP of a hospitalized youth, the stigma, or denial, or just plain lack of understanding of the devastating effects of mental illness on the part of a counselor had a profound impact on my son and his future academic experiences.

     

    1. skeptical

      Ms. Wright,

       
      You have my sympathies, and best wishes for you and your son. 
       
      You are correct, it is widely known that Mr. Paulson has been a problem employee on many counts.  The fact that you are airing such an issue on this venue demonstrates that DJUSD has failed to handle his situation appropriately.  That falls on the district office and particularly on Matt Best, as well as the school board. 
       
      What responses did you receive from the district office and from the school board members?  
       
      The district is asking voters for a lot of money.  Do the district’s comments or actions warrant giving them more resources?  Two school board members are running for election.  Do their comments or actions warrant a vote? 
       

      1. jwright

        Skeptical,

        Thank you for your kinds words.

        Susan Lovenburg was the only one who responded, but it was incredibly brief with no sympathy. She said that she’d pass it on to the Superintendent.

        But I bet the issue won’t be discussed until after the Board elections.

        As for Measure H, I think that we have a lot wonderful dedicated teachers who deserve to be paid a real wage (as well as have the option to pay for affordable health care) for all the hard work that they do for our children.

        Thanks for the insight about Matt Best and the District. I’m looking forward to his response.

        All the best,

        Jessica

      2. quielo

        I have empathy for Mr. Paulson who seems to be slandered in both the Enterprise and the Vanguard. Given the nature of the allegations he will not be able to discuss the case to defend himself. Posting something like ” Mr. Paulson has been a problem employee on many counts.” by an anonymous twit is not fair to him without some documentation. I always provide documentation and just posting in bold is not the same as substantiating your position.

        Anyone who wants to criticize DJU if free to do so however slandering an person is uncalled for. Or perhaps piling on the slander is what you consider “empathy”?

      3. Chamber Fan

        I’m a little perplexed by the fact that someone who purports to be new to the area, continues to jump in with both feet when you don’t know the actors involved.

      4. quielo

        “when you don’t know the actors involved.” You are correct. I had never heard of Paulson until this morning’s piece in the DE and have no opinion on his competence. I will stand up for someone I believe is being unfairly treated even if I don’t know them.

      5. quielo

        “But you don’t know that he’s been unfairly treated, because you don’t know him.” Absent evidence that the sweeping criticism of him is fair then it is unfair.

      6. Chamber Fan

        So basically you’re just being a contrarian?  You don’t really know if you’re right, but you’re going against the flow for the sake of going against the flow.

      7. Chamber Fan

        What ironic is that earlier today, Sam posted in another article: “Measure H is going to save a lot of DTA jobs. In 2009 when the District was facing funding cuts from the State the District administrators took a pay cut to help close the budget gap. Classified employees took a pay cut to help close the budget gap. The District then asked the DTA to take a 2.5% pay cut to minimize the number of layoff notices they would have to give to the teachers. The DTA refused to take a pay cut. Instead the community donated to the Davis Schools Foundation and approved parcel taxes to fund DTA jobs.”

        The DTA president at the time… Tim Paulson.  There’s a Vanguard article where he talked about the fact that the motion to even take a 1% cut didn’t get a second.

      8. jwright

         

        quielo,

        Let me be clear: the non-compliance is a Fact, and it’s only because of Mr. Paulson.

        This issue isn’t because he didn’t put a smiley face on my son’s homework; it’s because he didn’t provide an IEP for my son over the time span of 1 & 1/2 years (even though the qualifying criteria had already been established), which resulted in my son failing a class because he didn’t have the necessary tools that only exist with an IEP (plus there’s more which I won’t go into here).

        Trust me, you are lucky that you didn’t have to live through this debacle, and I don’t want future students and their parents to have to experience this one. Ever.

        Thank you for your time,

         

        Jessica

    2. jwright

      Hi Tia Will,

      That must have been an emotionally trying time for all of you. I hope that you all are in a much better place. I think the question of “would you be saying this to a mother of a child with cancer, etc.” is exactly the reason why there needs to be more awareness and transparency offered to the community about these issues.

      That’s why I’m speaking up!

      We hear so much about the issues of AIM, but let’s add to this conversation because education isn’t solely about academics. It’s about the whole child, and DJUSD is sitting at the edge of creating some amazing changes, which involves holding professionals—like Paulson—accountable for not following the law of the IDEA.

      Keep on doing what you do!

      Jessica

      1. Tia Will

        Jessica

        Thanks so much for the kind words. Yes, it was a very trying time. But what I did not state was the good part. In fairness, I would like to share the role of Matt Best in saving my son’s life. Recognizing the danger that Jeremy was in, Matt best on more than one occasion, came to our house and with my permission entered it to get Jeremy out of bed to go to school. I would never have believed that a principle would have cared so much to go to a child’s house, insist that he get up and dressed and go to school, and then personally call me to let me know that he had my back.

        As a single mom, this was invaluable to me. I have the utmost respect for the seriousness with which he took my son’s condition. It made all the difference to my son and me. If all of our school professionals took mental illness this seriously, we would not see these kinds of issues.

        Just a word about the role of the community college. My son did his first two years at a community college, matured and is now successfully progressing in the kinesiology program at Sac State. I think that this is probably the best course for him, however, we will never know, since although he was qualified, he was not accepted at UCD.

  3. South of Davis

    I’m wondering if Jessica is thinking about asking the school district for compensation for “all that chaos he has lowered his standards and dreams, and will probably do the junior college transfer route” and “unbelievable amount of stress on me that resulted in health issues often not seen in a person my age”?

    1. jwright

      South of Davis,

      I want the School Board and the new Superintendent to hold Mr. Paulson accountable for his failure to help my son over an extended period time. By accountable, I mean, dismiss Paulson from his privilege of working with children who have Special Needs like my son.

      It seems like a win-win solution, right?

      thanks,

      Jessica

        1. Tia Will

          quielo

          by an anonymous twit is not fair to him without some documentation. I always provide documentation ….”

          My question is why the DV wants to be a forum for personal vendettas?”

          A couple of thoughts about your posts.

          1. If it is true that you “always provide documentation…”, I would like to see the documentation that any post here was made by an “anonymous twit”. Not agree with a post is one thing. Name calling without substantiation is quite another.

          2. I do not see this post as a “personal vendetta”. While I might or might not agree with the recommended resolution to this issue in terms of the employment of Mr. Paulson ( due to lack of supporting evidence with this being the only case of which I am aware) I do feel that this represents a much bigger issue with regard to how students with special needs are handled in our school district.

          I have not seen and do not ever want to see the Vanguard back away from controversial issues.

        2. quielo

          Tia If I were to replace “widely known that Mr. Paulson has been a problem employee on many counts.”  with “widely known that Tia Will has been a problem physician for many years.”

          Would you consider that a “controversial issue”?

          BTW, I just looked at the DE and cannot find the original letter. Was it pulled?
           

      1. ryankelly

        Jessica,  Your son was given a 504 plan at his first school in California.  You then changed schools and immediately expected a different evaluation.  It took time, yes, but it was resolved in the end.  Are you also calling for the person at the first school to be fired?

        This feels like revenge.  This community has had enough of that sort of behavior.  This is never a win-win solution and, even if the employee were fired at your behest, it would not change either your son’s nor your situation.

        1. jwright

          Ryankelly,

          The issue is that Mr. Paulson knew that my son had an IEP Assessment on file, and the 504 was not working. I requested a return to the IEP, and he did not follow protocol at that point in 2013. That’s why the issue is about Mr. Paulson, not another school. He was the gatekeeper.

          Sadly, you’re right: I can’t get back those years for my son. I can’t get back any of that, but I can try my hardest to ensure that future (and current) students aren’t going to have to go through this problem.

          All the best,

           

          Jessica

  4. Eric Gelber

    As someone who practiced special education law for many years–representing students, not school districts–I must say that I am somewhat surprised by the decision to post this “open letter.” It’s not possible to determine the specific allegations, the specific findings of the Department of Education, whether the violation was significant or technical, or whether the noncompliance was individual or systemic. Yet commenters are willing to form opinions on whether a school district employee should be terminated.

    Disputes between school districts and parents of special education students are not uncommon, which is why complaint and appeals procedures exist. I’m not sure why this, apparently, individual dispute is of public interest, and if the issue is of public interest, why there isn’t a more thorough and balanced presentation. To be clear, I’m not asking for more information on this matter  Absent allegations of systemic noncompliance by the Distict, this should be resolved through existing individual due process procedures and personnel processes, which respect student (and employee) privacy interests.

    1. jwright

      Hi Eric,

      Thank you for the time you’ve spent working for Disability Rights California.

      I’m bringing this case into the open because my son’s rights to a FAPE were violated, and the person who did it remains employed by the District.

      I’m offering a perspective because Autism is a spectrum like the color wheel, and so very often, many children do not receive assistance when they clearly need it because a select few administrators chose only to see Autism as “low-functioning.”

      I’m sharing our story with my community and fellow parents because I believe that problems, such as this one, are often covered up. Our community has been discussing the problems with AIM, but what about Special Ed.

      It almost seems like a Civil Rights violation to provide “alternative” education for the most intelligent students while making a child with Autism (who also happens to be very smart) go through  1 & 1/2 years of struggling, and only, finally gets his IEP because of a really awesome advocate.

      So, yes, this issue needs to see the light of day, thus that’s why I wrote the letter. We can’t just whisper about injustices in Special Ed anymore, especially when our children feel the impacts on a daily basis.

      ~

      Back to your comment as it brought up some interesting questions:

      1. Are there even more cases like this one going on in DJUSD?

      2. How many students and their parents have experienced this “blocking” of access to Special Ed?

      3. How many of those students feel that they can’t speak up for fear of retaliation?

      4. How many of the parents feel silenced by the method of due process?

      5. How many of the AIM students (and the few who barely miss the cutoff) are considered Twice Exceptional, so that they have an high IQ and a disability?

      6. How many students who should be in AIM, but missed by 1% or 2% points because they have an unknown learning disability?

      ~

      My son’s experience is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Special Ed, and by sharing this experience, and asking for true accountability from the District, then our students, our schools, and our community will become much stronger and healthier in the long run.

      To clarify, I’ve only focused on Paulson because he’s the one responsible for the non-compliance. Since that time, I’ve been working with other members of the Special Ed, and they’ve proved to be competent at their duties.

       

      Thanks for your time,

      Jessica

  5. MrsW

    Thank you for sharing your story.  Our family and a number of friends/neighbors, too, found DJUSD’s counseling and psychological support uneven.  I hope your efforts help future children.

  6. Frankly

    I’m not sure I like the VG being a source for public criticism of a named individual even if the criticism is warranted.  It is a personal attack piece that would otherwise have been a valuable topic to discuss.  I feel for the parents here and I have my own historical experience of the education system being staffed with somewhat lazy, unmotivated and uncaring employees that use the complexities of the system to help minimize their workload rather than provide excellent customer service.

    However, I don’t like this employee naming bit when the criticism is personal and transnational.

    Now, no problem with naming elected officials in criticism.  That comes with the job.

    1. jwright

      Frankly,
      I’m bringing this case into the open because my son’s rights to a FAPE were violated, and the person who did it remains employed by the District, which is funded by our government.

      I’m offering a perspective because Autism is a spectrum like the color wheel, and so very often, many children do not receive assistance when they clearly need it because a select few administrators chose only to see Autism as “low-functioning.”

      I’m sharing our story with my community and fellow parents because I believe that problems, such as this one, are often covered up. Our community has been discussing the problems with AIM, but what about Special Ed.

      It almost seems like a Civil Rights violation to provide “alternative” education for the most intelligent students while making a child with Autism (who also happens to be very smart) go through  1 & 1/2 years of struggling, and only, finally gets his IEP because of a really awesome advocate.

      So, yes, this issue needs to see the light of day, thus that’s why I wrote the letter. We can’t just whisper about injustices in Special Ed anymore, especially when our children feel the impacts on a daily basis.
      Thanks,
      Jessica

  7. Tia Will

    Now I find myself sitting on the fence. After reading Eric and Frankly’s comments, I find myself wondering if a redacted letter leaving out the name might not have been a better choice ?  That would have served the purpose of bringing up the issue which I see as of general interest and importance, while preserving individual privacy.

    1. Eric Gelber

      Tia –

      Redaction would have addressed one concern. But it is still not clear what the issue of general interest is–other than the fact that the parent felt her son was not receiving appropriate special education services and that one employee was somehow responsible. That’s a pretty vague allegation, and not one that can be fairly or appropriately addressed here, particularly when only one party’s position is presented.

      1. Tia Will

        Eric

        What you say is true. And yet, if “one parent” does not speak out publicly, perhaps others also will not. I did not either privately nor publicly address the way my son’s illness was cavalierly dismissed by a counselor. Unfortunately, neither did I publicly praise Matt Best nor a number of other counselors and teachers who were very supportive of us.

        Sometimes just one story will be exactly what is needed to encourage others to speak up with their stories. Sometimes one person’s story will be what sparks a needed investigation and changes.

        Now my personal preference would be that such changes be non punitive. Thus I would prefer the route of redaction, however, I do believe that the story of how mental illness issues are handled by the school district  ( both the good and the bad ) is of at least as much importance as is the AIM story which has been covered by the Vanguard in detail on many occasions.

      2. jwright

        Tia and Eric,

        This type of saying it’s a “pretty vague allegation” is exactly why so many parents stay silent about the issues affecting them with Special Education.

        It’s not a “somehow responsible” because he “is” the sole reason otherwise I wouldn’t have written the letter.

        Nonetheless, mansplaining me into saying that I’m “bad” for bringing up this issue won’t work. That just won’t work for this woman.

        I stand behind what I wrote because it’s the truth.

        That’s all.

        Be well,

        Jessica

        p.s. Eric are you friends with Paulson? Have you been on Boards like First Five with him? So perhaps your perspective is somewhat biased?!

        1. ryankelly

          Mansplaining?   (def. to explain something to someone, typically a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.)   I don’t think that fits with the thoughtful responses of Tia and Eric here.  

          Jessica,  Consider this – employers often Google prospective employees before they hire them.

        2. jwright

          Hi Ryankelly (again!),

          That part of the response wasn’t directed at Tia, but Eric.

          As for Google, hah, well so do you think about censoring yourself every time you respond to a story or comment on here?

          Take care,

          Jessica

           

        3. Eric Gelber

          Eric are you friends with Paulson? Have you been on Boards like First Five with him? So perhaps your perspective is somewhat biased?!

          Seriously? Are you really questioning my motives? I certainly do not know this individual, or anyone associated with DJUSD for that matter, and I have no opinion on the merits of your complaint, one way or the other. The issues I’ve raised are with the appropriateness and fundamental fairness of leveling vague and general accusations against a school district and district  employee stemming from a dispute over handling of an individual case, in a public forum, when the facts and circumstances are otherwise not known. If your situation is illustrative of  a general systemic issue, then that’s one thing. But this appears to be an individual matter and it appears the State Department of Education addressed it as such.

        4. jwright

          Eric,

          First off, it’s a fair question to ask as you’ve been involved in Disability Rights for awhile, so there’s a possibility that you know Paulson.

          Secondly, I respectively disagree with your words:

          “The issues I’ve [Eric] raised are with the appropriateness and fundamental fairness of leveling vague and general accusations against a school district and district  employee stemming from a dispute over handling of an individual case, in a public forum, when the facts and circumstances are otherwise not known.”

          ~

          My letter consists of facts, not vague nor general accusations.

          The fact is that Paulson was hired to do a job that required  him to uphold IDEA, and he didn’t do it for my son even though he was repeatedly asked to do so, which led to the non-compliance ruling.

          This experience has led me to ask this question:

          How many times has this kind of problem occurred, and parents didn’t feel comfortable in filing a complaint?

          I’ve brought these facts to light because the rights of those needing Special Education are just as important to discuss as AIM, but their rights are often shrouded in mystery because lack of transparency in the findings while AIM is front-and-center when most people discuss the upcoming Board elections.

          ~

          This letter is the uncomfortable truth, and it may be of benefit for others voicing their difficult experiences as well.

          Thank you for your time,

          Jessica

  8. Tia Will

    quielo

    “widely known that Tia Will has been a problem physician for many years.”

    Would you consider that a “controversial issue”?”

    The answer is, “it depends”. If the accusation was false, my answer would be no and I would consider the statement inappropriate.

    If the accusation was true, and that I had repeatedly breeched my duties as a doctor, and if requests to get me to alter my practices had not resulted in effective remedial action, then my answer would be “yes”. I would find it highly controversial to allow a known dangerous or even consistently ineffective doctor to continue to practice.

      1. Tia Will

        quielo

        How would anyone know whether it was true or not? It would simply be a bunch of people acting out on their own prejudices.”

        Not if it led to positive action. Let’s suppose that the allegations were true. Wouldn’t the best possible outcome be if there was an investigation? If it were true that I was an ineffective physician, I should either receive opportunities for retraining in my deficient areas, or chose to limit my practice to those areas in which I demonstrated full competency ?

        I do not believe that there should be any punitive action taken on a single accusation. But a single accusation might well provide enough information to decide if an investigation should be undertaken. This is the point of any type of whistle blower action or patient or client complaint. If wrong doing is not called out in some fashion, it will likely be allowed to persist until there is a seriously bad outcome. I strongly believe in preventative action where possible, remedial action where prevention is no longer possible, and punitive action only as a last resort. But no action is possible without the knowledge that something is amiss.

         

  9. ryankelly

    I would argue that this is not the venue to resolve this parent’s issues.  I am uncomfortable by the violation of this child’s right to confidentiality.  We all know too much about this child’s personal and protected information now.  I am uncomfortable about the public defamation of a specific employee and the campaign to have him fired.  We’ve gone through this before and it wasn’t good for the community.

    The more I read, the more I’m convinced that this is not about the student, but about the parent.

    1. jwright

      Ryankelly,

      Ah ha! Now that first line is an excellent example of mansplaining. You’re being condescending.

      I’m not defaming, as I’m telling the truth.

      be well,

      Jessica

  10. Tia Will

    ryankelly

    I share your concern about the well being of the student. What we do not know is whether or not the author got her son’s permission prior to making this letter public. In this regard, I can only share my own experience. Before I began sharing personal stories here on the Vanguard, I got both of my children’s permission to share their stories including their names if I felt so inclined.

    It is quite possible that this student wanted his story told in the hopes that other similarly affected students could be spared his experience. Again, we simply do not know without asking.

    1. jwright

      Hi Tia,

      Exactly!

      I asked his permission.

      And yes, he is a big advocate about Autism Awareness.

      Thanks so much for sharing your story about Matt Best! That’s awesome what he did!

      All the best,

      Jessica

  11. Tia Will

    quielo

    How many students do you know that read the Davis Vanguard ?  At the time that I was first asking my son if he minded my posting, his first question to me was, “Davis Vanguard, what’s that ? “

  12. sactan

    I side with Eric in that this doesn’t seem to be a public concern unless you can show that it is a systemic problem.  Otherwise, this is best dealt with through administrative measures.  I can only assume you had your attorney review this before you published this and named specific employees, and understand the risk with publishing this type of information about a private individual.  I am also somewhat surprised that the Vanguard decided to publish this. Good luck with your son’s situation and probably pending litigation.

    1. David Greenwald

      I don’t believe there is an attorney involved.  As to why the Vanguard decided to publish this, I think these are issues that the public should be aware of.  I can tell you that several other people have come to about other situations that have gone unaddressed by the district.

  13. vanguardfan

    Ms. Wright,

    It sounds like mistakes were made and that your son and family paid a heavy price.  But why do you believe that Mr. Paulson should be fired as a result?  Is it not possible that his practice has changed as a result of this incident and its sequelae?

  14. David Greenwald

    I feel the need to say something here – I want some of you to think about how you conducted yourself, because if you’re goal is to make sure no one ever comes forward again with concerns such as those expressed here – congrats – you’ve probably succeeded.  Some of you hiding behind pseudonyms are making me strongly reconsider our anonymous posting policies.  Harming my efforts to get issues out to the public is a good way to get us to change our policies.

    1. Grok

      I urge you to reconsider your anonymous posting policy.

      This site would be better for the community without the regularly very nasty anonymous posts. Please hold all commenters equally accountable for what they write and make this a better blog by doing your best to have posts associated with real names.

      I would gladly post under my own name if everyone were held accountable for what they write here by having people post under their actual names. Until that time I have no intention of participating on this site under a real name or submitting articles for publication.

      1. David Greenwald

        Thanks for that input. My reasons for allowing people be able to post comments are undermined by people who are anonymous being able to attack people who post (articles or comments) under their name.

  15. Tia Will

    doesn’t seem to be a public concern unless you can show that it is a systemic problem. “

    While I respect Eric’s thoughtful objection on the grounds of “public concern”, I believe that the treatment of children with special needs within our school district is clearly both a systemic issue and a public concern. One has to look no further than the AIM controversy, which is, at its core a debate about how do we handle the issue of individual students who have recognized differences of learning styles and meet certain testing criteria……and have parents who have managed to get together as a group to push for programs specifically designed for their children’s needs.

    Here we have a single student who’s parent faced a long delay in obtaining the prescribed remedy for an individualized program. I have added my story of another child whose mental illness was essentially trivialized because it was not a physical disorder by his counselor. Another family I know had a prolonged legal battle with the district in order to get their son, whose needs were different from but equally severe as my own son’s, the support that he needed. So now, we have three stories. How many folks do we need to step forward with individual problems before we might begin to think that this just might be an issue worth looking into on a systemic basis ?  And how do we get parents to come forward if they are not used to public speaking, writing, or blogging or used to challenging authority ?

    Again, my recommended remedy would be different than that advocated by this author.  But to state that this is not an issue of public interest without even being curious about how extensive the problem is, would seem to me to have the effect of silencing parents who may simply have not reached a critical mass as the GATE/AIM parents did years ago. I doubt that anyone now doubts that the well being of this group of students is not of “public interest”.

  16. Miller

    I am disappointed by the journalistic failures of this entire exchange. First, I strongly disapprove of the Vanguard publishing an attack on a named individual who, because he is bound by FERPA regulations preventing the disclosure of information about a student in the district, is unable to defend himself. This individual (who I do not know) has a family living in Davis; they are doubtless humiliated at this point, and lack recourse. The letter would have had equal impact on readership, and could have been discussed equally vigorously, had it been redacted. Second, I certainly hope the Vanguard consulted the student in question to make sure he gave his consent for his diagnosis to be publicized for this political purpose (i.e. getting an individual fired). Third, decent journalistic practices would require asking whether the remedy that the post requests – that a district employee be fired by his supervisor, and on the basis of a single violation – is even possible under district rules and its contract with the union. (I highly doubt it.) Fourth, Tia – please don’t broadcast visits by DJUSD employees to your son’s bedroom. No matter how much consent you felt you expressed at the time, you are putting people at risk by saying such things.

    1. Tia Will

      Miller

      please don’t broadcast visits by DJUSD employees to your son’s bedroom. No matter how much consent you felt you expressed at the time, you are putting people at risk by saying such things.”

      Wow ! What a misrepresentation of what I wrote !  At no time did I say that Matt Best or anyone else entered my son’s bedroom. They did not. Matt Best was not alone when he went to my house. The team from the school opened the front door ( with my permission ) and called up to my son, who when summoned, got up, got dressed and came down stairs to be accompanied to school.  So while I appreciate your concerns, I would recommend that you not deviate so far from what is actually posted in addressing your concerns.

      1. Miller

        Hi Tia, I don’t think I misrepresented what you wrote (“Matt best on more than one occasion, came to our house and with my permission entered it to get [redacted by Miller] out of bed to go to school”); rather, what you wrote was an incomplete rendition of the facts, one that would allow any reader to come to the conclusion I did. (Your post made no mention of a team, and the phrase “get out of bed” suggests, well, getting someone out of bed.) In any case, I’m really glad this has been clarified, and I’m even happier that things have turned out well for you and your son.

    2. David Greenwald

      Miller: I appreciate your feedback. A lot of these things are balancing acts. I view this as one person’s opinion. Just because we published it, doesn’t mean that we support the notion that the employee be fired. At the same, I have long been concerned that confidentiality laws that are supposed to protect students from disclosure are used to defend the government agency from wrongdoing.

      I will answer this: “I certainly hope the Vanguard consulted the student in question to make sure he gave his consent for his diagnosis to be publicized for this political purpose (i.e. getting an individual fired).”

      The student gave his consent to have this published.

      1. ryankelly

        David, It seems to me that the intent of the letter writer is to rally support for her effort to have the employee fired.  If it just described her difficulties in getting special education services for her son the conversation would be different.

        I agree that we should be talking more about students who struggle in our school system and policies that make life difficult for them.   I had difficulty with one administrator and felt that she should not be dealing with children for years.  I did all I could to steer clear of her and breathed a sigh of relief when she finally retired, so the letter writer is not alone in her struggle.

  17. Tia Will

    Grok

    Until that time I have no intention of participating on this site under a real name or submitting articles for publication.”

    I am unclear about why you would take this position. If you believe that posting under ones own name is the best practice, then why not “lead by example” ?  There are quite a number of us who write articles and post under our own names on a regular basis. The worst that has ever happened to me is that I have been told that I “am selfish”, have “no morals” and that I make someone else “ill”. I believe that I can handle that.

    I understand business concerns that have been expressed by some and have gotten around that by emphasizing repeatedly that my posts on the Vanguard are a reflection of my own beliefs only and do not reflect those of any other individual or organization. I would also note that many of us who participate know the identities of at least some of the “anonymous” posters. Which leaves me to wonder what is actually being protected by anonymous posting.

  18. sactan

    David,  thank you for your response.  I think there’s a misunderstanding as to what is a systemic issue, and what is a personal attack.  The difference is libel.  A systemic issue can be talked about in general terms, and even use specific instances without naming names, or giving information enough to identify individual people.  If the author in this instance wishes to express an opinion about services or lack thereof provided by the school district, that is fine, but to name specific people and ask that they be fired is a personal attack.  As stated above by someone else, the employee may be bound by privacy laws, and may not have a fair opportunity to defend himself on this platform.  I ask, how is this a fair and balanced presentation of the situation?  No doubt the employee has already dealt with the CDE process, and any district policy on addressing the situation.  We have to assume that the district took proper steps to address this situation and any employee admonishment, and if the author feels like that wasn’t enough, then the issue is with district leaders not the individual.

  19. Frankly

    I urge you to reconsider your anonymous posting policy.

    This site would be better for the community without the regularly very nasty anonymous posts. Please hold all commenters equally accountable for what they write and make this a better blog by doing your best to have posts associated with real names.

    You make the assumption that this would cause people to post less “nasty” posts.  You have no proof that this would be the result.   The more reasonable expectation is that VG participation would drop significantly (check the Davis Enterprise blogging) and those that continued to post would be of the standard politically-correct group think.

    I would gladly post under my own name if everyone were held accountable for what they write here by having people post under their actual names. Until that time I have no intention of participating on this site under a real name or submitting articles for publication.

    Weak and unimpressive.  I think everyone should recycle and ride a bike to save the environment, but only when the authorities make it mandatory and force everyone else to do it, will I do it too.  Did I say weak and unimpressive?  I guess some people are just wired to be a follower and not a leader.

    1. David Greenwald

      I don’t believe that people posting under their own names would less attacks, I do believe it would reduce people’s discomfort with those attacks no longer coming from anonymous sources.

    2. Grok

      Frankly – I have noticed a significantly different tone in your writing when you write on the vanguard or post in the enterprise under your real name. I think your opposition to linking real names to posts stems from the fact that you like being able to semi-anonymously attack people.

  20. Rocinante

    David, I hope you will use the opportunity the postings regarding Ms. Wright’s story has presented to rethink the value of anonymous posting.  As an “old school” journalist I find anonymous posting troubling because I believe it allows some writers to display a degree of “nastiness” and “thoughtlessness” they would not use if they had to attach their real name to their submission.  It would not stifle their ability to comment to use their real name. It would merely necessitate taking the time to fashion a thoughtful, pointed, and potentially “contrarian and critical/skeptical” point of view that would help to enlighten your readership and prompt us all to think more deeply about a subject that we might not otherwise invest our thought in–which I hope is what this is all about.

    Tia,  you raise my biggest concern with the anonymous posting policy:  the fact that many of the regular anonymous posters in the Vanguard know who each other is.  That creates a sub-culture of contributors who, I think, end up talking to each other, sometimes in code, that is hard to follow if you don’t read every post of every article.

    Frankly, the newspaper practice of requiring real names does not seem to inhibit people from speaking their mind (see New York Times).  David, following Frankly’s line of thought, do you use anonymous posting to give  writers “protection” in the spirit of your watchdog role or do you do it to “spice” up the commentary section to gain additional readership…?  I would like to see the Vanguard aim for a higher standard of attribution than the absence of standard that seems to permeate so much of social media…

    1. MrsW

      The discussion about the ethics of the Vanguard allowing for the calling out a specific employee’s name is relevant.  A discussion of the big picture–was this experience anomalous or does it reflect an institutional problem? –is relevant.  A discussion of what tools are available to administrators when they have bad apples — is relevant.  Questioning the practice of simply moving bad apples around — is relevant.  But anonymous posters?  If Jessica is using her real name…well, I don’t get it.

    2. MrsW

      Let’s talk about this:

      “I have long been concerned that confidentiality laws that are supposed to protect students from disclosure are used to defend the government agency from wrongdoing.”

      ….and if specific employee names are needed to accomplish this.

  21. Tia Will

    We have to assume that the district took proper steps to address this situation”

    This is precisely the assumption that I do not think that we should be making. I think that far too often we just “assume” that internal and/or personnel matters are being appropriately handled. This is not unique to school districts but applies broadly. It is why both individual and systemic investigations are frequently needed as well as transparency surrounding these investigation.

    Of course, neither  should we be assuming that and employee should be fired based one one parent’s word.

    1. sactan

      You proved my point exactly that this is a misguided article.  If the issue is whether the employee should be terminated, then the problem is with the administration process used by the district, not the individual employee.  I’m going to assume that the district followed protocol in this situation unless the author can prove that standards were not followed when determining whether the employee should be terminated or not.  Does the author have evidence of precedence of these types of things leading to termination of an employee?  To call out an individual employee is completely bias, unfair, and defamatory reporting by the Vanguard and the author.

  22. Cat

    Shame on you David Greenwald for publishing this slanderous letter.  Will it now be the policy of the Davis Vanguard to air grievances that both breech the confidentiality of  minors, but also attack and slander school district employees?

    If you had any journalistic integrity whatsoever perhaps you would research an actual story, not publish  a letter that relies on gossip and vague assertions by Ms. Wright that a single employee has ruined her life and rendered her unemployable.   Moreover, this letter could be about any school district employee and an unhappy parent who feels that they should decide that a teacher should be fired, and then attacks them personally and professionally.

    There are appropriate avenues and recourse for Ms. Wright to take,  none of which involve slandering an employee in a public forum who cannot defend themselves.   To me, her intentions seem clear.

     

    1. hpierce

      Pretty sure the VG will correct this, and only allow attacks/calls for resignations of City/County employees, by name.  DJUSD should be off limits for that kind of treatment of its employees… if for no other reason, “it’s for the kids”…

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