Members of the Board:
My name is Laurie Arbour and I would like to address the agenda item regarding the reduction of hours for my employment time at Clayton Valley Charter High School. I am a founding member of the Charter. I suppose at this juncture, it should be reason enough for Dave Linzey to want to eliminate me from his staff. I do fully acknowledge that I have spent the past year pointing out the failings of our Executive Director and our Board which I hold fully responsible for the problems that we now have on our school site. All that being said, I would like to tell my story and this is it.
I entered the profession of Speech Pathology some 16 years ago. I began my practice at Stanford Medical Center and then determined that the commute from Concord to Stanford was too arduous when trying to raise two sons. One of my sons has a learning disability. I have devoted the past 16 years to working with students with disabilities. Yet, I have never limited myself to just that population. I will help any student who comes through my door. And there have been many. Speech pathology is a huge field which serves everything from stroke victims to stuttering to reading issues to memory failure. I have helped many students pass the High School Exit Exam, finish senior projects or just cope with communication in school. I believe that this is the purpose of my profession and my practice. I believe that just because you cannot speak does not mean that you don’t have something to say.
To that end, I played an integral part in writing the special education portion of the charter and working to build a program. I am the person who was able to enlist the El Dorado County Charter SELPA to take us on as a teacher conversion charter- easily touted as the best SELPA in the state for Special Education Local Plan Agencies. I am highly trained in special education law and the resulting paperwork. For the Charter I am the Special Education Information Systems (SEIS) manager and take care of the reporting to both the SELPA and the State. I take this job seriously and will tell you that we have a near perfect record. Yes, there are a few errors because, as our own District, we inherit the paperwork from MDUSD or a student who comes from a private school who has not had a current IEP in many years. When this record comes to us, it will show up as an error of “overdue.” But these are to be expected and the resulting reports are easily explained and subsequently dismissed by the State. And yes, there are a few Case managers who, for whatever reason cannot enlist the parent to come to a meeting on time, which will also show as an error. None of these errors are the result of my job as the SEIS manager. But I digress.
The most important part of this email stems from a reduction in my hours as a member of the Special Education Department. I believe much of this Reduction in Force (RIF) is retaliation for my vocal dissent and a direct attack on the Special Education Department at Clayton Valley Charter High School. Currently, the number of service hours on my speech pathology caseload adds to 2.56 days. I am diligent about exiting students as the record will show. I do not keep kids on my caseload so I will have a caseload. We have approximately 25 students coming on with IEP’s. Of those 25, we have no way of knowing how many have speech services as you cannot upload and assume the record until early August when their District releases them or when their parents show up with the paperwork. It is a guess. So, I have to wonder why Dave Linzey arbitrarily chose 40% because what I have now is 50% and we have unknown incoming freshmen. I have spent the rest of my full time employment as SEIS manager, Compliance Liason with CAL PADS, Medi-Cal Program and LEA billing, Severely Handicapped Program advocate, Testing Coordinator and Proctor for Materials and Accommodations per IEP and Transportation Coordinator. I cannot emphasize enough that the work that I do on any given day blankets the campus and contributes to the overall success of the special education program. I am the girl Friday who assists the school psychologist, the counselor or the student services employee who just has a kid show up who is in distress or needs help. I am the person who runs to a classroom if there is a special education student who is having a problem. I am one of the front line staff they call if there is an autistic child or handicapped child who needs extra help. I am the person they call to help with transportation, the need for an interpreter or some other issue. I am the person who helps that Athlete pass a course so they can play sports. I am exactly what the Charter envisioned. And yes, I am sure that even with the shortage of speech pathologists running around, Dave Linzey can find a contract agency to send him a speech path who will just deliver speech therapy, but they will not do what I do. This RIF is a direct retaliation for my voice at public meetings which this Board and Dave Linzey have more than earned.
So, I am appealing to you because I believe that the Board’s decisions are ultimately responsible for the success of the Charter. If the Charter fails, it is because the Board has failed. Historically, this Board has done exactly Dave’s bidding without question or research (you can always call the SELPA to get more information) and that is why we are in the present predicament. I am an integral part of the Special Education Program and as a Charter you should know that if this program fails, the Charter can be revoked. So, if you do nothing else, share the concern of this email and be the voice of conversation. That is all any of us have ever asked for and that is why people have been vocal- because we wanted to be heard. I will say to you again, my unique ability to cross the “job description” line and get the job done for all students, regardless of their station in life, is the embodiment of what we thought this charter could be.
Laurie C. Arbour