Special Education

Educating Students With The Most Severe Disabilities

All students are entitled to a public education that will help them meet their full potential, even if the end result is not academic achievement.

Carl J. Petersen
Age of Awareness
Published in
7 min readFeb 18, 2022

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“All learning environments and formats designed to help the learning needs of any student should be celebrated and acceptable.”

- Board District 2 Candidate Erica Vilardi-Espinosa

Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

On his first day on the job, the LAUSD’s new Superintendent, Alberto Cavalho, sent a message to the “Los Angeles United Family.” It set a tone that would be expected as he thanked his predecessor, Interim Superintendent Megan Reilly, for her stewardship of the district and thanked students, colleagues, and families for their sacrifices during the pandemic. He then set his focus on the future. This is where he stumbled with the inclusion of one word that served to exclude the most vulnerable of the LAUSD’s population.

In a school district of hundreds of thousands of students, there are a significant number of children with severe special education needs. This includes children who are not pursuing a high school diploma but will instead receive a certificate of completion at the end of their LAUSD journey. Rather than mastering algebraic equations or chemistry formulations, these are the students who achieving their full potential involves becoming as independent as their abilities allow them to. This is accomplished with the help of very dedicated teachers and other support staff in environments like special day classes, Career Transition Centers (CTC), and special education centers.

Alberto Carvalho

In his introductory letter, Carvalho dedicated his service to “elevating every single student in our District”, which captured the goal that every single person who works for the LAUSD should have. Unfortunately, he completed this sentence with “to their full academic potential.” If he had left that one…

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Carl J. Petersen
Age of Awareness

Parent, special education advocate and former LAUSD School Board candidate. Still fighting for the children. www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com