Pioneer questions persist

4:35 pm

Note:The author and her son were featured in a recent story in Willamette Week by Beth Slovic. –Ed.

I am a parent of a son who supposedly graduated from Pioneer this year. I have tried for years to advocate for the students at Pioneer by letters, e-mails and being on several PPS committees. It has been very difficult to get any response. Over a year and a half ago a dozen or so Pioneer parents wrote a very nice four page letter expressing some concerns about Pioneer. We got no response. I followed it a week or so later with an e-mail and the letter as an attachment. We got no response. Since then several of us have e-mailed the superintendent and the board with no response. I had always thought there was some sort of legal requirement for district officials to respond, but apparently not.

As our son moved toward graduation last spring I asked the vice principal of the Holladay Annex if he would go over our son’s credits with me as they where not posted on his eSIS diploma page the way they usually are for PPS students. As the vice principal fumbled around trying to explain how our son could have gotten credits, two things were clear. One, the vice principal had no written record of our son’s credits as they align with the credits needed to graduate with a modified diploma as listed on the PPS website & the ODE website. And two, the vice principal had no idea what the required credits for graduating with a modified diploma even were. Since that day my husband and I have gone up and down the hierarchy ladder of PPS asking for someone to explain our son’s credits. Here it is now almost October and we still don’t have any documentation of his credits and how they align with the state requirements. The last we heard about it was from the new Chief Academic Officer Xavier Botana telling us that by e-mail that “We expect to be looking at all of (his) needs as part of the IEP development”. So we’re being told to wait for an IEP meeting to find out if my son has his credits to have graduated from high school this last school year.

So, I have been asking for someone to explain my son graduating credits to me since early June and have yet to have anyone explain them to me. Even his eSIS diploma page still says he is missing credits.

To be truthful, I know why they do not want to talk to me. In my looking into diploma requirements I kept coming across the OARs and other laws that confirmed what I had already thought about how the district was neglecting the education of the students placed at Pioneer. Two weeks prior to my son’s graduation I sent a letter to many of the PPS officials that had refused to discuss credits with us. I have also sent the letter to the School Board with, of course, no response. I believe that these are extremely serious questions. This doesn’t just affect our son; this is how the district has been neglecting the education of Pioneer students for years.

In the letter I asked PPS, from the school vice principal on up to the superintendent and the school board, these eleven questions on July 24th and have yet to receive any answer:

  1. If Pioneer isn’t a school, what “school” is our son graduating from? (The Director of Special Education, Joanne Mabbott, informed me earlier that Pioneer did not get all the same things as other schools because it isn’t a “school”, it’s a “program”.)
  2. If Pioneer isn’t an accredited school, how can they give out credits?
  3. If Pioneer can’t give out credits, how can they give out diplomas?
  4. Oregon law states that core curriculum needs to be taught by a “highly qualified “teacher for students to be able to receive credits for a modified and/or a standard diploma. How can Pioneer students receive credits when the teachers are SPED teachers?
  5. How has our son earned his required credits for graduation when he hasn’t had access to the required courses?
  6. Why hasn’t our son had access to many courses, Pathways included, even though there is nothing in his IEP that states that the courses would need to be modified or deleted? (required by law)
  7. Why have the courses that our son has taken not followed the PPS curriculum or aligned with the PPS grade level standards? (required by law)
  8. Why wasn’t our son able to take three electives within this Pathways choice as required for graduation? (Pioneer has no electives at all! Graduating with a modified diploma he should have had twelve electives.)
  9. Why has our son received no career or Pathways counseling? (required by law)
  10. Why has our son received no help to write and implement an Education Plan; not to be confused with an IEP? (required by law) (And, yes, we know that an IEP can be used as an Education Plan, but it would need to have all the components of an Education Plan written within to qualify. Our son’s IEP does not qualify as an Education Plan.)
  11. Why didn’t our son get any career experience or career learning in his areas of interest? (required by law)

Joanne Mabbott had promised another parent and me back in June that there would be a Pioneer Community Forum Meeting so Pioneer parents could voice their concerns about problems at Pioneer near the end of August. Now we are being told that there will be no meeting and Pioneer parents could come to the Special Education Audit Stakeholders meeting instead.

The Pioneer Staff also recently asked to speak with district administrators and Joanne Mabbott refused to speak with them.

How do we get the district to respond?

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Polly Zagone is a PPS parent.

filed under: Equity, IEP, Media

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16 Responses

  1. Comment from bill:

    My advice is to get an attorney. Those are serious questions that you deserve to have answered. You need someone that is very familiar with special ed law.

  2. Comment from S. Wilcox:

    Sorry to say this is a standard district response. I think there is a class called “ignoring parents, teachers, and anyone with valid concerns.” And I think most administrators pass the class with flying colors.

  3. Comment from Stephanie:

    I remember when MESD had their classrooms in the building that is now the Pioneer program at Youngson. It was undersupported and underfunded like everything else but I saw them do amazing work with some of the kids I knew. After PPS took over and I came back to see students there it had quickly turned into a warehouse in a short amount of time. I think the teachers are phenomenal and dedicated but many of them don’t have the training to handle the challenging behaviors and CPI is a terrible crisis response system and the state of Oregon has long since adopted OIS as more respectful intervention system. I had to tell a teacher they were not allowed to strap children into chairs and came to find out it was recommended by the occupational therapist. I comforted a parent who was escorted out by the vice principal after receiving an invitation from the teacher to observe some of the things they were doing in the classroom (and NO she was not making a scene but accepting an invitation). I experienced first year teachers writing behavior plans for students and when asked about a behavior consultant was told they did not have one (at a school for behavior?). I attempted to help a parent get her child out of that school and even the lawyer for the parent said it was an impossible situation because they would just set him up to fail at his neighborhood school and dump him back there at Pioneer with an “I told you so”.

    Polly – You get the district to respond by convincing parents not to defend this school anymore. I posted on the Aspergers parent group (I am a parent of a child with HFA) about Pioneer and attempting to find support for taking a closer look at this school. You responded to me by promoting the school and offering me a tour? If the parents all could agree that the district needs to find a way to support their kids NOW in a school and not a warehouse program then they would listen. I agree that the district is out of bounds and breaking the law but there are 100 parents who believe that their child should be segregated for every 1 parent that does not. I absolutely respect and am so thankful for parents like you who have blazed a path for my 1st grader who is fully included. I understand that I would not even have this option of full inclusion without advocates such as yourself. With that said, and you asked the question…we get the district to respond by convincing parents that their kids do not belong there and we show up in mass to the school board meeting and we do it twice a month until they listen. I will stand with you and I can bring friends!

  4. Comment from Polly Zagone:

    I find your explanation of how things were at Pioneer shocking. I personally haven’t seen anything like that in the over six years I have been there. Stacey Sibley brought in Collaborative Problem Solving and has done extensive training with the staff. Collaborative Problem Solving, CPS, is based on respect, something my son rarely got in other schools. I have found the Pioneer staff miles ahead of the staff in any mainstream school my son has attended in terms of having an understanding of disabilities and how behaviors are the manifestation of the student’s deficits. Behavior is communication. The PPS “no tolerance” policies make it impossible for these students to even have a chance at gaining an education in regular schools. My son is a bright kid, though his sensory issues, high anxiety, lack of emotional control, inability to filter information, obsessive compulsive tendencies and inability to grasp the concept of the rules of social strata all have been “unacceptable” to PPS, even in the B-classrooms. All these issues and deficits cause “behaviors” that are deemed disruptive and are worthy of suspension with days out of school, making his access to an education difficult. At Pioneer a student may have a blow out, calm down with a “coach “and return to the classroom and to his education. Each classroom at Pioneer has a therapist assigned to it who works in groups as well as one on one with the students. Dr. Kirk Wolfe is the psychiatrist for the school. I don’t think there is a full time behavior consultant, but perhaps it’s a budget issue and the therapists and psychiatrist is how they have this covered. I would still want to take anyone on a tour of Pioneer. I believe the CPS model, although it’s not fully implemented, has cast the mind set within the staff that these are kids that would do well if they knew how. These are kids worth respect.

    I would have loved for my son to have been able to be in a regular school. Unfortunately, the supports are not in place to help students with social/emotional difficulties. There are so many things that would need to be fixed; starting with that mind set I was taking about. People feel sorry for a blind kid, but think an angry screaming kid is a bad kid and needs to be removed. I have had trouble not thinking at times, that my son’s classroom would be better if they would just get rid of one or other of the students that seems to always start the disruptions. I understand that it’s hard not to think that way, especially when the law actually backs it up. If a student is disrupting the learning of others they can be removed.

    Inclusion or segregation aside, PPS is and has been discriminating against the population at Pioneer Special Schools. The law states that school districts are responsible for the education of all students living within the district no matter where the placement. A student placed at out-of-district Serendipity or in a hospital bed at Providence or at Pioneer all are to receive the same access to an education. PPS has failed to provide the Pioneer facility, staff and students with the necessary qualified teachers, curriculum, materials, tools, lunches, etc, so as to educate and prepare students for the future as per the standards and requirements written in the Federal and State laws. PPS can bring in what’s needed, transport the students to what’s needed or change the placement to what’s needed.

    If fixing this issue involves fixing the problems standing in the way of inclusion for these students and returning them to regular schools with all the therapeutic supports in place, teacher and staff trainings on disabilities and new laws about what constitutes removal , I don’t think you will find any one complaining!

  5. Comment from Pioneer staff:

    I don’t know what you think you saw at Pioneer but the staff have trainings 4x per month and the state has not adopted OIS. PPS has adopted CPI. Many parents do want to observe their children and that is fine if given notice. Most teachers have a difficult time saying no they are typically pleasers. You don’t have the entire story when you only give half facts. As for behavior consultants each vice principal has atleast 10 years in behavior classrooms, student management background and the principal had 30 years in behavior and raised two adopted children with social/emotional issues. the therapists in each classroom had behavior background as does the school pychologist and school psychiatrist. I don’t think anywhere in the district or out you will find more behavior experience. Students are treated respectfully and IeP’s are executed. If an O.T. told the teacher to do something the teacher would do it. But our Principal or vice principal would tell them that is not o.k. which was the case. Have you perhaps been to Pioneer recently spent more than 5 minutes????
    Many students have found acceptance and stability at Pioneer. They do not give up on kids and send them elsewhere. The school is only 10 years old but was striving to give all students what they needed: art class, social skills, PTA, run for the arts, parent night, open houses, art night, Thanksgiving feast….Pioneer still has a ways to go but without district support it will not get to the place it needs to be.

  6. Comment from Miss Merry Sunshine:

    I’m with Bill: get an attorney, get an ATTORNEY, GET AN ATTORNEY!!!

  7. Comment from Stephanie:

    I should open by saying that every single teacher I have met at Pioneer is hands down the salt of the earth and above and beyond is an understatement. A few people in particular will always be heroes to me for the support they gave and continue to give to a student I care deeply about who experienced a sudden family crisis.
    From the feds never fully funding IDEA to the district sweeping these kids under the rug it is just unbelievable that over 30 years since the IDEA Polly’s son does not have even the basics of a public education due to needing a different learning environment. I am just starting on my path in IEP world and I take nothing for granted. I try not to be hypervigilant but just today I received an email from someone trying to decrease supports in the IEP. I am very passionate about the issue of inclusion and segregation but I am now better able to understand your perspective about finding a place of acceptance for your son. I have told myself that if my daughter ever chose to be in a self-contained setting I would have to honor her choices despite how I personally feel. In whatever form it takes know you can count on me to stand with you on this issue. It’s just not right. Have you contacted Disability Rights Oregon? They are amazing and won a case for one of the kids I work with and got them out of day treatment back into their neighborhood school with the right support.
    All of my direct Pioneer experience has been with K-6 and with children that are very physically aggressive and may also be medically involved as well. I realized I should have clarified that I have never been to what I think they call the annex. While CPS principles can be somewhat adapted for the kids I know in straight practice it is a system for kids who are primarily verbal. I am an OIS trainer and biased against CPI because it does not focus on proactive person centered positive behavior supports but that is truly just my opinion as an OIS snob. The state has not mandated OIS but has adopted OIS in the OAR’s for developmental disabilities but this does not apply to schools yet. Many school districts have adopted OIS and positive behavior supports in the state. The new PPS discipline policy requires for the use of positive behavior supports.
    One question I have about parents visiting the school is why do they need permission? I go to my daughter’s school whenever I want, sign in and go straight to the classroom. What is it about having a disability that makes a parent need notice? It is not just Pioneer, in other classrooms I see the kids are treated like patients and the parents are discouraged from communicating. A parent invited by a teacher because she wants to learn how to be more successful at home is then escorted out of the school like a criminal in front of her child? It’s not a hospital, but according to PPS it is not a school either? If there is someone with training in writing behavior plans in the school then why is a teacher doing it? The teacher is the academics expert and if all these people with behavior expertise are in the building then why aren’t they writing the plan? For the sake of the teachers, students, and parents I am glad there are improvements to report.
    If you haven’t already call Disability Rights Oregon.

  8. Comment from Polly Zagone:

    Thank you, Stephanie, for offering to stand by me. I know we all have different experiences and backgrounds from which we draw our opinions and make our choices. I’m sure we would find common ground as we both are working for what is best for our kids. As you probably know, neither my son nor I “chose” Pioneer. When my son was placed at Pioneer it was the only educational option available that would meet what are referred to as his “therapeutic” needs. But more to the point, Pioneer was and is the only placement that would accept him and work with him to build his skills. As long as there are students with behaviors that are deemed unacceptable and the laws back up their removal from their peers, there will have to be self-contained classrooms. The reason the “removal” for some of these students means a whole other building is because of the “no tolerance” type rules. It is difficult for administrators to understand the importance of not being punitive with students whose disability involves outbursts and lack of control. It is easier for them to remove those students from their building altogether than have what they would consider a double standard when it come to consequences given students for unacceptable behavior. So until this is all fixed there is a need in the continuum of services for Pioneer. Otherwise there would be no place for students like my son. But Pioneer need not be a warehouse. The staff doesn’t consider it a warehouse and work hard to have assemblies, field day and other school activities. The students and parents believe that their students are in a school. It’s only the district that is making it a warehouse by refusing to actually provide to Pioneer what any school would legally provide for their students and staff.

  9. Comment from Stephanie:

    A friend of mine said to me once on this issue that we all have to get on the same side of the boulder. I actually am less militant about inclusion than some of my friends but I have, like you said, different experience and background. Before I was a parent I worked with the last wave of people who left the Fairview institution in Salem. I read their histories and heard the stories and it is just horrendous what these people endured. I found the part that affected me the most was that parents of young children were told to leave them in the institution, go home, have more kids, forget about this one. Children, babies were still being admitted into the late 60’s and 70’s. When I became a parent of a child with a disability I just saw these special schools and programs as a slippery slope backwards whether the parent chose it or it was a matter of “placement”. The families I work with are isolated and lonely because of self-contained settings. I spoke with a very proactive parent trying so hard to get to know the other parents of the kids in the life skills classroom. I told her to lurk on parent conference day to get some face time with them. This is a very common complaint that parents have no outlet provided to meet, no accommodations for open house, and these kids are just transferred whenever and wherever. Kids somehow suddenly have new rules in “placement” and while the school has very low expectations of their ability and what they will teach them they act as if they should be more mature than kids twice their age. This no tolerance policy must be why the basketball player can get away with it while a teacher looks on but the kid with the disability will lose his “incentive” if he blows bubbles in his milk at lunch. Can you post a link to that policy? I am a policy person and would love to spend some time with it.
    Even with the community it seems is building in Pioneer there are still a lot of parents in isolation because they are even more segregated based on their placement within a placement. That is no one’s fault at Pioneer of course and just an example of the people all over the state I see that are so lonely because they are still hidden away and hiding themselves away. The larger community is much more understanding than these parents think. I have on many occasions coached these parents through a trip to the playground without swearing at other children and allowing their child to be just as immature as the other kids. I don’t mean to make it sound like rainbows and puppies; I had a kid pretty much destroy a birthday cake (not his) once at a park….Most of these parents feel their child should be excluded. After being in the small chair at the IEP surrounded by people telling you what is wrong with your child and perhaps even calling DHS on you for nothing substantiated I don’t blame them.
    I am starting to think the best way to get on the same side of the boulder is just to tell our stories. Can you imagine if every parent in special education told their story? We would find out about some incredible educators to be sure. On the flip side we would hear some things that many people have no idea is going. Things, such as your story, that are beyond appalling. A big part of the Parent Union is going to be celebrating parents where they are at in their journey and hearing their stories.
    OK, tangent aside, keep us posted on progress and how we can help. Hope you called Disability Rights Oregon?

  10. Comment from parent of child with special needs:

    Being in a special school is very difficult on families and students. But years ago these families were placed at private schools and isolated even further from their home schools and friends. At Pioneer there was a parent group, a PTSA, run for the arts and many other celebrations to help families come together. It would be great if all students could be in a traditional public school setting (Michael Remus tried that) and more kids were sent to Pioneer then. Many of us have had horrible times with our kids in those traditional settings. I have always thought it was funny that even within the special education world their are hierarchys of behaviors and problems and what is thought of as in, in special education. Because my child had acting out behaviors I would get dirty looks from other parents (even special ed. parents), yet parents whose child had more socially acceptable behaviors could not seem to understand my plight and what it felt like to have a child who was ostracized and as a parent I felt more isolated and embarrassed and alone. At Pioneer I atleast have others who understand what I have gone through and our kids are accepted and we have many celebrations for their small growths and accomplishments. When we get to Utopia and my child can be in a typical school that will be great but until that happens please help us get the supports that my child needs at Pioneer.

  11. Comment from Polly Zagone:

    Just to be clear, there is no written “no tolerance” policy. It’s a phrase that was and still is used by many principals to state that they will be tough on discipline. The policy that is written states that special education students are subject to the same disciplinary procedures as non-disabled peers, which isn’t bad thing in itself. There are “special procedures” that exist for students with an IEP, a formal Section 504 plan or those who have been identified for a special education referral that supposedly allows for consideration of the student disability in regards to misconduct. Unfortunately these “special procedures” only take affect after the student has been suspended for more than ten (10) days in any school year. At that time the “special procedure”, a Manifestation Determination meeting, could be scheduled. At the Manifestation Determination meeting, the IEP team determines if the behavior that caused the student to be disciplined was a manifestation of the student’s disability. If the team determines that the conduct in question is considered a manifestation of the child’s disability. “The student CANNOT be removed from his/her current placement for disciplinary reasons. (IEP/placement teams may change the student’s placement using standard special education placement procedures if the data support such a change. This is not a disciplinary removal).” So you’re student would have to be suspended ten days before you get to ask for a meeting that may or may not conclude that the misconduct was a result of the student’s disability and no matter the outcome, the team may still decide to do a change of placement. My experience is that even if you ask for a Manifestation Determination meeting, chances are you won’t get one. It will come back to some sort of comment like “we just don’t have the supports he needs here” that is essentially the door opening as they usher you and your child out, because basically school principals are unwilling to make allowances for students with disabilities. There is no tolerance, especially for kids with social/emotional disabilities.

  12. Comment from Bill:


    As a teacher who has moved students to Pioneer I can assure that it is not easy. It may be different in wealthier parts of town, but when I was teaching in an SLC-B in North Portland I can attest that it was not easy. There is a long list of things that must be completed before any movement occurs i.e. a functional behavior assessment and a behavior intervention plan. I am speaking from my experience only.

  13. Comment from Stephanie:

    Bill in your school what is the title of the person conducting the FBA and writing the BIP? I am a behavior consultant and I have found the plans I have reviewed with parents have been cookie cutter plans. These plans often have someone elses’s name in them somewhere and even the wrong gender. The function of the behavior is nearly always attention. In my line of work doing state behavior plans we measure a bad behavior plan by when attention is the function. Attention is actually rarely a true function. I do believe that it is a difficult experience for teachers and a hard decision but the behavior plans should be working is the bottom line. If they aren’t then the author made an incorrect hypothesis and needs to conduct a new FBA/BIP. After developing additional functions and reviewing strategies, implementation, and training then perhaps a change of setting within the school or near the school….bussing kids to BFE is just plain odd really when you think about it and blatant discrimination. As a teacher I am curious as well if you felt heard and supported in the process?

  14. Comment from Polly Zagone:

    That is as it should be. It should not be easy. More time, effort and supports should be used to make sure students have a chance to stay with their peers in their neighborhood school. A question I have for teachers is…When you write on the Placement page of a special education student that a Special School placement would “best meet their needs”, do you actually know where the student is going and what kind of services or access to an education they will receive there? The answer is NO, you don’t know. You are recommending a placement sight unseen, it could be Pioneer, it could be Serendipity. The IEP team does not get to choose. The placement is done at the district level. As a teacher you are stating that a “placement will best suit the needs of a student” but do you know that Pioneer has lousy inequitable lunches for all students. For the high school students there are no world language classes, no computer tech classes, no science lab and no electives whatsoever, to name a few things lacking. Does that sound like a placement that would “best suit” any student’s needs? Yet teachers all over Portland Public Schools continue to write on student’s placement pages that a Special Schools placement will “best meet their needs”. Those teachers are taking it on faith that the district is actually supplying the required qualified teachers, curriculum, tools, materials and lunches to the Special Schools. Instead they are sending them to be discriminated against. Don’t get me wrong, I still think there is a need for Pioneer and perhaps other Special Schools. Pioneer in particular has a wonderful therapeutic component that is working very well with the broad spectrum of students in attendance. The staff is well versed in disabilities and treat students with respect. The district on the other hand has limited the academics to a remedial level disregarding the state and federal laws that require academics to align with the needs of the individual student and their IEP. They have allowed Nutrition Services to continue to cheat these students out of equitable lunches no matter how many times parents complained. The career training/vocational program, which is also required by law, has been cut by the district over and over again to near nothing. Pioneer is unable to provide their high school students with what is required to graduate with even a modified diploma. Not because the staff doesn’t want to or doesn’t care. They are not given the ways and means to do it.
    I would like teachers to find out if these inequities are corrected before they consider sending students off to a Special Schools placement. Do not take it on faith that the placement is suitable at all for any student. Parents and students are assuming that when you say “this is a better placement” that you actually know what you’re talking about. Please be honest and don’t be part of the problem with the system.

  15. Comment from Columbia Parent:

    Polly and all, I’ve really appreciated this thread. I think it’s important to differentiate between the two Pioneer high school programs, The Annex (at Holladay Park), and Columbia High School. As explained to us, The Annex is for “fragile” children and Columbia is for “behavioral” children. Everything you say about inequity at the Annex is true, but have you seen Columbia lately? Our student’s teacher has said that her students are old enough to make their own decisions, and if they’re not going to do work she’s not going to “force” them. As far as we can tell, our student mainly watches movies at school, with maybe an hour or two of academics a day. And this is a kid who, while certainly not an easy kid, has done well academically in other settings, including a classroom in Pioneer’s middle school.

    Our student is both fragile and behavioral. Because Pioneer can’t accommodate children who are both, and because our child often displays violent outbursts, our child is placed at Columbia. It’s worth noting that those outbursts are associated with our child’s disabilities. Our child was moved out of a day treatment program, where significant academic and therapeutic progress had been made, to a program without any therapeutic component. Even the more therapeutic parts of Pioneer don’t measure up to an actual day treatment program, the “year-round” calendar notwithstanding. Our experience as parents has been (largely) one of being not listened to, and even disrespected.

    This is one area where our experience at Columbia has been better than our experience with the more therapeutic branches of Pioneer. Columbia’s therapist is very good, and has been open to input from us as parents. When our student was at Foster, one teacher actually refused to send daily information home about our child’s behavior, because he said he couldn’t trust that parents would discipline their children non-abusively. This from a man who refused to meet with us, when daily communication is actually written into our child’s IEP. Our student was having multi-hour rages, running through the halls and entering private offices, because Pioneer staff would only respond using CPS. I think CPS is a really worthy approach, but it only serves to further inflame my child when raging.

    The choice PPS offers our family seems to be: a semi-therapeutic environment where our child will rage for hours because people continue to engage him during his rages, or a non-therapeutic environment with virtually no academics, no respect for students, and no expectations placed on students. Yet, again, my student has been placed in two non-district day treatment programs over the years, both of which were able to manage his behavior better using flexible approaches (vs. applying a stated philosophy to all students across the board), and were teaching him. We haven’t noticed any learning going on since our student was placed at Columbia. In our case, we would really like the district to admit that they are not equipped to educate our child, and send him elsewhere.

    One last note, in response to this statement posted by Pioneer Staff: “If an O.T. told the teacher to do something the teacher would do it.” We had the district OT in our child’s IEP meeting, and my child’s teacher and therapist rejected two of her recommendations outright, on the grounds that they would cause other students to tease my child. The teacher did not write the O.T.’s recommendations into the IEP (We haven’t signed it, but are not sure what to do beyond that).

    Hopefully I’ve written this in a non-inflammatory way. We’ve certainly met caring, insightful individuals working in the Pioneer program. But the system as a whole is very broken.

  16. Comment from Polly Zagone:

    Dear Columbia Parent and other Pioneer Parents,
    I recently met with Xavier Botana, the new Chief Academic Officer. I believe that the message is finally getting across to the district administrators. Discrimination has been happening at Pioneer and things need to be fixed. Mr.Botana has reassured me that a letter will be going out to the Pioneer community discussing what they see as the issues and how and when they will be fixing them. We also discussed Pioneer parents being able to meet with administrators to go over their student’s credits and IEP to see what can be done to get things back on track for these kids. However, the letter with this information has not gone out yet. I would suggest you copy your comments into a letter or e-mail and send it to the Pioneer Columbia Vice Principal and copy it to Jenifer Jackson, Assistant Director of Special Education. That way they know you would like to be first in line to talk to them.