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SDUHSD changes course on special ed housing

SOLANA BEACH — The San Dieguito Union High School District has reversed course on a plan to house a special education program in two modular buildings on the Earl Warren Middle School Campus.

Late last week, School District Superintendent Eric Dill announced that the district’s adult transition program would be moved to three classrooms on the La Costa Canyon High School campus.

“Based on the feedback from last Friday’s parent meeting, we will be moving the entire program to La Costa Canyon High School beginning this school year into three permanent classrooms,” Dill wrote in an email to the school board. “I will send a message to ATP families today and also inform them of the action the board will consider to create a Special Education Task Force.”

The decision comes after parents of the students in the program — a four-year program that educates students with special needs until the age of 22 — railed against the district for what they called “separate and unequal” conditions.

Parents noted the contrast of the district spending $37 million on the renovation of Earl Warren’s campus, compared to the $500,000 purchase of the two modular units, which parents have referred to as “tool sheds” in emails criticizing the district’s decision.

They also questioned why the district would place the program — which serves young adults — on a middle school campus.

Dill apologized to the parents at a July 28 meeting and vowed to take swift action. He originally proposed to move the program to LCC at the start of the 2018 school year, but parents pushed back, urging him to act before the start of the current school year, Aug. 29.

“We believe this satisfies three of the frequent requests we heard on Friday — move the program away from a middle school, place the program in permanent classrooms, and keep the students together,” Dill said in the email.

Dill said that the recently formed Special Education Task Force will evaluate and recommend options for permanent placement of the adult transition program, including staying at the LCC campus, working on a partnership with MiraCosta College or placing the programs in the classrooms being constructed as part of the Sunset High School renovation.