CONCORD -- Mt. Diablo school district parents are distraught over a plan to begin "clustering" special education students at bus stops instead of providing home-to-school service.

Lorrie Davis, parent and chairwoman of the special education Community Advisory Committee said the district has not provided sufficient data to show why the busing program has to be changed. Parents want to see actual cost comparisons and they also want to see a "third party analysis" that the Fiscal Crisis and Management Team, or FCMAT, used to develop the concept of clustering students at bus stops, Davis said.

Based on the report, general counsel Greg Rolen said Mt. Diablo spends more money on transportation than many other districts in the state. But when asked to provide backup data for this assertion, he was unable to verify it. Both FCMAT and the district have denied Public Records Act request for this analysis from this newspaper, citing the district's attorney-client privilege.

Parent Denise Lambert commented that a report to the board about the district's solar projects was much more comprehensive than its report about special education transportation.

"Collaboration -- not concealment -- is necessary for us to move forward," she said. "I ask the board to continue to provide the checks and balances that your community expects."

Trustee Linda Mayo said she hoped Rolen would provide parents and the board with the answers they sought.

"I hope there would be information -- preferably in writing -- regarding the comments in the FCMAT report," Mayo said. Board President Sherry Whitmarsh said the district should also strive to reduce the amount of time special education students spend on buses.

Despite the complaints, Superintendent Steven Lawrence said the district could implement the changes as soon as January. But Carolyn Patton, special education administrator, assured the board no changes would be made without an Individualized Education Plan meeting between district staff and parents.

online
More information about the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team report is available by calling 925-682-8000 ext. 4000 or by visiting http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us. Click on Sept. 24, item 13.2.
For additional details, including video clips of parent comments, read the On Assignment blog at www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment.