Letter: Parents have the power to make positive changes

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Editor’s note: Anne Hoelz’s letter to the school board has been added online to the Tribune article entitled, “Albert Lea School District appealing finding of violations,” which was originally printed on Jan. 23.

I write this letter to the members of our local communities — especially all parents raising children with special needs in School District 241— in hopes of empowering all parents to not only know their rights, but to also encourage them to step forward when they feel their children are being shorted educationally.

As you may know it was earlier reported that the Minnesota Department of Education found School District 241 in violation of the Minnesota Statute 3525.0755 Extended School Year Services. Certain students with IEPs, including my son, were denied extended school year services for the 2015-16 school year by District 241 thanks in part to a PowerPoint training aid that contained erroneous information.

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This training aid was used to inform district staff on how students qualified for ESY and resulted in several students being denied ESY services. Additionally, School District 241 cut all therapy services to the students who did manage to qualify, citing “low need.” School District 241 has filed an appeal both against the way the MDE handled the investigation and also MDE’s ruling on the case.

In an effort to keep the community fully informed, I have shared a copy of the letter I sent to all six of the current school board members on Jan. 28 with the Albert Lea Tribune. In it, I talk about what it’s like to raise a child with special needs who relies on these services the state of Minnesota mandates school districts provide. Along with the letter I sent the school board members, I also included the Minnesota Statute 3525.0755 Extended School Year Services, so no school board members can say they are uninformed on or unaware of the statute in question. This statute can be found on the Office of the Revisor of Statutes website at https://www.revisor.mn.gov.

I also expressed my disappointment about School District 241’s lack of communication regarding the complaint with me, the parent who filed the complaint.

We parents have the power and the right to help our school district make positive differences in the lives of our children. I encourage all of you to step up and speak out; our children’s education depends on it.

Anne Hoelz

Albert Lea