Monday, March 20, 2023

Citizen’s Task Force members hear about special ed, middle school science

A presentation about the Individual Education Plan process by Special Education Director Solomon D. DeFrancis was the main order of business for the March 24 meeting of the Tehachapi Unified School District’s Citizen’s Task Force.

Vice Chairperson Marilyn White led the meeting as Chairperson Leslie Whiteside joined the group online after it was already in session. Other members present at the meeting were Secretary Nicole Gockel, Andy Bogursky, Bryan Carey, Jennifer Forthman, Jessica Gonzales and Susan Stuart.

The task force was formed in 2021 and the 15 current members were appointed by the Board of Trustees in February. Terms of service are one year and five of the original members were reappointed, along with 10 new members.

Andrea Paxton, chief administrator, instructional services, facilitated the meeting and was joined online by district staffers Terrie Boston and Sarah Carey.

Paxton advised the group that she will bring information about the district’s LCAP (Local Control and Accountability Plan) to a future meeting to seek input from the group. According to the California Department of Education, the LCAP is “a tool for local educational agencies to set goals, plan actions, and leverage resources to meet those goals to improve student outcomes.” The three-year plan describes goals, actions, services and expenditures “to support positive student outcomes that address state and local priorities.”

The district’s LCAP will be updated when the district begins its budgeting process for 2022-23.

Understanding IEPs

Paxton said DeFrancis was asked to make a presentation about IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) because of interest expressed at an earlier task force meeting.

As part of his presentation, he provided attendees with the meanings of two acronyms commonly heard during special education discussions:

• IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

• FAPE – Free appropriate public education.

The IDEA is a law that makes available a FAPE to eligible children with disabilities through the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children, he noted.

And the IEP specifies the special education instruction, supports and related services a student with an identifiable condition needs to thrive in school, DeFrancis said.

He said that IEPs are part of PreK-12 public education and in a series of slides walked task force members through the process the district uses to prepare IEPs as well as who qualifies for special education services.

Parent involvement is key, he noted, adding that “the expert on the child is obviously going to be the parent.”

middle school science

Jacobsen Middle School science teachers Amy Lang and Charli Hansen jointly presented information about the Stemscopes science curriculum they had an opportunity to explore with their students during a pilot. The curriculum is being considered for adoption by the district and can be reviewed by parents or other interested parties online at with user name “Tehachapi” and password “science.”

The teachers were enthusiastic about Stemscopes and their presentation included photos of students engaged with the curriculum while the pilot was being reviewed.

More information

Remaining meetings of the task force for the coming year have been set for April 28, May 26, Aug. 25, Oct. 22 Oct. 27 Nov. Dec. 17 15 and Jan. 26, 2023.

More information about the task force and agendas are available on the district’s website,

Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist and former editor of the Tehachapi News. She lives in Tehachapi and can be reached by email: [email protected]


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