Case Study: HPI – Houston Parents for Inclusion

Vision: An education for all children with disabilities in Houston ISD based within the general education classroom supported by meaningful accommodations and modifications delivered by special education experts

Mission: To shift the culture of educating students with disabilities in Houston ISD from convenience and segregation to full inclusion utilizing current best practices nationally

Core Values:

  • We presume competence for our children and are preparing them now to be independent adults with meaningful paid employment
  • Adults with disabilities who receive inclusive education have better outcomes and are able to advocate for themselves
  • Educating children with disabilities in the general education classroom is a cooperative task requiring professional development on current practices, efforts which also benefit typically developing children
  • School district representatives and parents should be equal partners in ensuring enforcement of special education law in the classroom – professional development in this area should be required for all teaching staff

Membership:

  • Parents of children with disabilities in Houston ISD (1) whose children receive (or received) special education services in segregated classrooms and (2) whose children received special education services in the general education setting and can speak to the success and/or challenges
  • Parents of children with disabilities who will enter elementary school in Houston ISD in the near future
  • Adults with disabilities who are self-advocates
  • Representatives of like-minded organizations

Concerns:

  • Cultural bias toward educating students with certain diagnoses in segregated environments based on years of habit and practices that are 20 to 30 years behind current best practices nationally
  • Fundamental lack of understanding of how to create an inclusive Individual Education Program (IEP)
  • Lack of professional development for principals and other leadership positions on current national best practices in special education
  • Lack of required professional development for teachers, paraprofessionals and others to make inclusive education successful
  • No success model for students and teachers in segregated classrooms
  • Minimal use of UDL professional development and implementation

Long Term Goals:

  • Create an educational culture in which general education placement is assumed for at least the first IEP written for that student, be it in preschool or a later grade, and that all children moved to segregated placement have a reintegration plan in place before segregated instruction begins
  • Re-centralization of some special education functions to promote equality of services across district
  • Transforming the Guiding Principles Regarding Inclusive Education Practices from guidelines to Board policy through advocacy
  • Achieving required professional development for all staff in current inclusive practices through advocacy
  • Ensure membership includes at least one member from each of the 9 Houston ISD Board of Trustee districts

Short Term Goals:

  • Grow membership from 5 to 10 parents/self-advocates increasing diversity of culture and disability and ensuring representation of 2 additional Board of Trustee districts
  • Participate in reviewing the current AIR study of special education in Houston ISD before its final review and acceptance by the Board
  • Meet with Superintendent Carranza
  • Meet one-on-one with each board member
  • Meet with Dr. Anderson at least 3 times during the school year
  • Work with Dr. Anderson to create a Special Education Parent Advisory Council

Success as of 1 June 2018:

  • A membership of 10 parents, which includes one member from each of 2 additional Board of Trustee districts
  • Meet with and present inclusive success resources to Superintendent Carranza
  • Individual meetings with at least 6 board members
  • Achieve a greater understanding of current professional development offered in Houston ISD through meetings with Dr. Joan Anderson