On Thursday March 17, 2022, the Santa Clara County School Board Association Legislative Action Special Education Subcommittee; MUSD Superintendent Cheryl Jordan; South East Special Education Local Plan Area Director Shelly Ota; SCCOE Government Relations Amanda Dickey, Esq; Senator Dave Cortese; CSBA Legislative Analyst Ericka Hoffman; and CSBA Chief Legal Counsel Bob Tuerck hosted an Inclusive Conversation about Special Education for Santa Clara County School Board members and other community leaders.
A video recording of the special session is available for viewing here.
Over the years, "Special Services" in public education for students with different learning requirements has become known as "Special Education," and is commonly viewed as a separate education system. There are many reasons for this perception, some of which were discussed briefly during our conversation, which is why the move toward inclusion will provide a dynamic and responsive system for all learners.
Here is a link to presentation: Inclusive Special Education Conversation
Here are the videos:
MUSD Superintendent Jordan and I provided each panelist the opportunity to share valuable insights for each of us to consider and learn more about including Significant Disproportionality; LEA Billing Option Program, SB 692, AB 2034, and other legislation identified by the speakers. Attendees gained context on how key legal cases impact our district funding and the direction of future services Emma C., et al v. Thurmond, et. al. (1996); Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association, et. al. v. California Department of Education, et. al. (2011); and E.E., et. al., v. State of California, et. al. (2021).
As the SCCSBA LAC Special Education Committee Chair, I encourage board members to stay connected to the Special Education conversation with the Santa Clara County School Board Association Legislative Action Committee, please register here.
As this month ends, I have to be mindful that this may be my last Black History Month as a school board member. I am not promised today, tomorrow, next week or next year. I am even more mindful of the fact, I could not have been a part of Black History without all of the different ethnicities and races that live in Milpitas — a true “Culture of We” in spirit. Thank you ALL of MUSD for being a part of my Black History and the village that educated me to recognize it.
In 2014, I was elected to the MUSD Board of Trustees. When I informed my mom, she said to me, "You have made Black History." I paused for a moment, smiled at her and said, "And you made me."
Shortly after the 2014 election, in January 2015, I asked the Superintendent to share with the teachers and principals I would be willing to support their efforts for Black History Month by reading, volunteering, participating in assemblies, etc. It would be one of my many ways of thanking the community that raised me, preserving its Black History, and embracing the evolving demographics. The several who took me up on the offer watched me tell a little bit about growing up in Milpitas. The feedback I received was that I was fun; interactive and inspiring to their students and, in return, I learned even more about the curiosity, concerns and hopes of kids from different age groups.
Lillian Katz, an international leader in early childhood education wrote, "Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize the well-being of our children and grandchildren is ultimately linked to the well-being of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. If one of our children is threatened or harmed by violence, someone else's child will be responsible for the violent act. A good life for our own children can be secured only if a good life is secured for all other people's children."
Growing up in the diversity of Milpitas, it is easy to believe the words of Lillian Katz. WE are ALL the keepers, protectors, encouragers, and role models for our own and others’ children in our community.
Thank you MUSD staff of African descent, past and present including; Chuck Gary, Mr. Travelers, Mrs. Simpson, Henry Robinson, Annie Handy, Cheryl Rivera, Herman Wilson, Damon James, Sean Anglon, James Carter Jr., Diallo Sims, Champ Wrencher, Deanna Sainten, Dr. Latisha Roberts, Hanna Asrat, Jonathan Payne, Kenneth Lewis, Stacy Lillard, Naomi Agraz, Grashan Austin, Marcus Boone, Raymond Dillard, Coral Dunn-Morley, Reynard Elzey, Mitslal Gebregiorgis, Marvel Guglielmelli, Richard Hart, Margaret Jackson, David Lewis Jr., Kimberly Marion, Cyd Mathias, Kevin Muhammad, Ndeye Ndiaye, Tiberius Nyantika, Paul Okoye, Derrick Orr, Tana Rainer, Randle Redic, Tamara Robertson, Stacey Ryan, Alfrieda Scott, Nicole Stewart, and Carmen Thrower. You are part of the Black History in Milpitas. Your presence and perspective has tremendous value.
Special thanks to The “Sunnyhills Soul Fathers”. These Black men helped raise me, supported my friends, and provided 30+ years of service and leadership to the African American community of Milpitas and beyond.
Mr. Kennon, Mr. Dixon, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Eiland, Mr. McGee, Mr. Watts, Mr. Brown, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Wyatt, Mr. Tony Thompson, Mr. Henry, Mr. Gray, Mr. Shelton, Mr. Goode, Mr. Ward, Mr. Smith, Mr. Benjamin, Mr. Levine, Mr Peco, Mr. Norwood, Mr. Ellison, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Scott, Mr. Levine, Mr. Wilkinson, Mr. Dunbar, Mr. Crane, Mr. Davis, Mr. Augustine, Mr. Goode, Mr. Davis, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Mcgee, Mr. Shelton, Mr. Nichols and their friends.
2020 CSBA State Board Member of Year
Jonas Salk said, "The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more." Tom Sachs said, "The reward for good work is more work.”
As I reflect on the most challenging year of being a member of the Milpitas Unified School District Board of Trustees, I am extremely grateful for the work well done. I'm grateful for the work accomplished by my local and regional colleagues, our employees and parents of Milpitas Unified, and the community in service of our families and children.
Our community-based partners are providing acts of kindness daily for our families and children.
Our religious institutions are offering prayers, places of refuge and resources for spiritual health and physical well-being for our families and children.
Our mental health practitioners and district leaders are continuously implementing measures that keep employee morale and self-care top of mind for our families and children.
Our police, fire fighters, first responders, and healthcare workers are visible and accessible to all providing collaborative strategies for the public safety of our families and children.
Our families and children are modeling and reflecting our examples through their giving, volunteerism, leadership and community service for others.
There is Power in Good Work.
Board of Education
In Milpitas Unified School District, we have two feeder Child Development Centers that feed into 10 elementary schools. We have 10 elementary schools that currently feed into two middle schools. We have two middle schools that feed into one comprehensive high school, one alternative high school, one middle college high school, one adult education school, and one community college. We also have one K-12 online school called the Virtual Pathways Program (VPP/Independent Study) that feeds into them all.
All of these places and spaces of education, higher learning and pathway development are under the umbrella of MUSD EducatEverywhere. Wherever there is a need, no matter the age, MUSD strives to serve one of the most socioeconomically and ethnically diverse communities in the United States. Yes, I said United States. And while adversarial conflict dominates the news cycles and social media chats, capitalism continues to push the bounds of machine learning, process automation and artificial intelligence. As times and seasons change, I enjoy looking over the horizon.....
Over the horizon, I see the city of Milpitas elected officials and operational staff continuing to build its working relationship with the school district, parents and workforce ready students that accelerate economic recovery, stability and prosperity. Over the horizon, I see our community-based organizations infusing new residents and goals into their organizations so the rich stories and traditions of events, scholarships, mentorship programs and financial donations to our diverse student populations grow.
Over the horizon, I see Milpitas High School with a Performing Arts Center, second gym, fitness center and student union. Over the horizon I see the MUSD Innovation Campus, which will house District Office personnel, Tech services, MHS campus extension, Calaveras Hills, Milpitas Adult Education and Workforce Readiness and Early Childhood Development Center. The MUSD Innovation campus will bring new buildings, excitement and opportunities to 1331 East Calaveras (Ayer Site/District Office) in preparation for the 4IR.
Over the horizon, I see our residents appreciating, continuing to challenge and supporting our district when we need them the most. Over the horizon, I see MUSD students free from racism, bigotry and the hate that divides so many. They will take their places in the world as producers in the fields of healthcare, advanced manufacturing, technology, governance, biotech, finance, engineering (social, architectural, mechanical), computer science, industrial design, architecture, public service, community relations, legal and, of course, education.
The city of Milpitas is approximately 13.5 square miles. The city of Milpitas has only one school district, the Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD). MUSD serves 10,300+ students, 180 days per year, on average, not including summer school enrichment and intervention programs. MUSD employs more than 930 people. MUSD is one of the largest employers of the city and reaches 30,000 residents daily.
Within the public school district boundaries there are 2 Childhood Development Centers, 10 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, 1 comprehensive high school, 1 continuation high school, 1 middle college high school, 1 community college extension and 1 adult education center. There are more than 57 languages spoken by our children and their families.
Outside of MUSD, within the city of Milpitas, there are multiple childcare centers, 5 private schools; Stratford (2), Milpitas Montessori, Monarch Christian, Merryhill, Milpitas Christian, Foothill Adventist and St. John's the Baptist.
Milpitas is committed to educating its community. Many Milpitas residents are aware and connected to both public and private school systems for a myriad of reasons. They are connected to other different types of school systems in the Bay Area and across the globe.
Over the past 18 months, Milpitas residents and families were suddenly placed into extraordinary roles of parent engagement and partners in education with MUSD. In parallel, MUSD employees were placed into extraordinary roles as technology experts, health care experts, community leaders, online educators, counselors, and more. We've built the CoVID19 web page to assist in the community education process.
MUSD is a district "On The Move" and we are constantly compared to others. Many of these "apples to oranges" comparisons have been challenging at times to understand, strained our internal bonds of collaboration and belief in the Culture of We.
As we celebrate Labor Day Weekend, and continue to solve new challenges on a daily basis, please know the residents and families of Milpitas recognize Your Labor of Love to serve, educate and support Milpitas children. Each of you is appreciated and continues to inspire.
Thank you for your service and leadership.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has forced change. Every conversation I have has an asterisk and some exclamation points at the beginning, middle and the end. On the micro level, we have changed lifestyle habits, methods of communication and ways of work. On the macro level, we have changed systems of supply chain distribution, healthcare, and currency. The future of education is both exciting and to be defined.
For the law enforcement officers who have intentionally and selectively chosen ill-will over goodwill, and also choose whom they want to protect and serve, the guilty on all counts verdict was not an eye opener. It was a warning that there are more people paying attention and willing to seek justice. Has the Peace Builders pledge taken root in Generation X and inspired Generation Z to express their hopes for a civilized planet? Is this really the historic moment in America so many Africans, Immigrants, Refugees and Indigenous people of color died for? Cried for?
History tells me no. Justice is what "Just" "Is". But on the other hand.... my optimism and hope tell me "something is changing" and a culturally reflective education can be a vaccine to the viruses of hate and intolerance. Here are two of my favorite examples:
At the White House
At the Milpitas End the Silence Stop Asian Violence Rally
In my last blog post, I said "There Was No Loss Of Learning or Leading". The verdict in the George Floyd trial was a reflection all 3; loss, learning and leading. Is this really the historic moment? We make history everyday, and it shows in our families and their children. We are MUSD!
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been receiving 5-10 newspaper articles a day from across the country, 3-5 direct calls from other school board trustees, 5+ social media DMs per week from parents and community members. I also participate in 5 Zoom calls across the region and state regarding what's happening now and what happens next at the legislative level. All I can think about is the Milpitas Unified School District team members, parents and students, and community.
As we enter into the season of Spring, it symbolically represents new beginnings and new opportunities of hope. It also represents a new allergy season.
In the upcoming weeks our MUSD campuses will be much more active. There will be admin staff in offices, as well as custodians, Student Nutrition Services, and Maintenance Operations & Transportation team members on sites. Teachers and students will once again utilize classrooms in new ways, and some will continue to teach and learn within MUSD EducatEveryWhere from a distance.
To ensure we have the safest environments possible, for those coming to campus at any time, there will be a daily online health status check-in requirement. We will see adults and children wearing masks and/or face shields, and following predefined pathways across school grounds and campuses. We will see much smaller classroom sizes, designated bathrooms, cleaning schedules, and other safety precautions per County Public Health guidelines across the district. We will see some uniformity and creativity in schedules and models at our elementary and secondary schools — including Milpitas Adult Education with our CDC preschool leading the way as it has since June 2020. There will be inconveniences, sacrifices, struggles and new challenges to overcome. WE are MUSD!
As I reflect on the past year, there was no loss of learning or leading. There were rapid iterations. There was, and continues to be, digital information overload. There was, and continues to be, the highest levels of teacher collaboration, parent engagement and instructional innovation. There was loss of face to face interactions. It's hard to see facial expressions behind masks. There was loss of life, income and property.
Regardless of how our MUSD students are assessed at the end of the year, there was no loss of learning or leading. MUSD students taught each other how to better use technology, troubleshoot home internet and helped their caregivers become digitally literate. MUSD students had to learn to listen and interact with instructors and peers in a new way, very similar to how many in the Bay Area work on a daily basis now and forever more. What was truly learned will be measured in the years ahead.
COVID-19 will not define MUSD. What we have done and will do for years to come will be the foundation of that definition.
Spring is upon us, allergies and all....
On March 13, 2020, Governor Newsom announced the Shelter-In-Place order for the state of California. In the months preceding the governor's announcement, Superintendent Cheryl Jordan organized district leaders, including myself and Vice President Hon Lien; Assistant Superintendents Norma Rodriguez, Wendy Zhang and Jonathon Brunson; Director of Tech Services Chin Song; and Association Presidents Diana Orlando (MTA) and Machelle Kessinger (CSEA) to discuss a variety of hypothetical pre-planning situations based on information being received from international family members, community leaders, Stanford research and district thought partners.
What if the Coronavirus (COVID-19) made it to the states? What would it take to ensure learning continuity? How do we pivot from in-person to online? How do we effectively engage MUSD leaders, teachers, administrators, student nutrition? How do we inform parents and students effectively? How much would it cost? These questions and others were quickly answered in the months to come as the Board approved the creation of the Distance Learning Plan, entitled “MUSD EducatEveryWhere, the budget for additional technology,” and more.
Director Song and his Tech Services Team were truly unsung heroes. They did an amazing job of training, equipping staff and students with the technology needed to move from in-person to online. They set up drive-through laptop pickup stations at the district office. For those caregivers and students who didn’t have transportation, our principals, secretaries and administrators brought laptops to MUSD schools and homes. Yes, there were bumps in the road but these paled in comparison to the quality of effort to ensure learning continuity for MUSD students. During the first 3 days, our Tech Services Team distributed more than 1,500 Chromebooks!
In the midst of the technology rollout, Assistant Superintendent Rodriquez, along with Tech Services and a cadre of teachers, did an amazing job locating our own shining stars to lead our own professional development. I saw teachers collaborating with each other like never before. I know it wasn't easy but it was (and still is) awesome! I watched office administrators teaching parents how to log into Chromebooks for the first time ever. I witnessed siblings and friends teaching each other how to use Google Classroom.
While MUSD played its part in learning continuity, the Milpitas community responded in kind. We were getting information from parents who had family in China and other parts of the world. We received several large financial donations, deliveries of PPE, thermometers, hand sanitizer, and food security volunteerism led by Director Sandy Huynh and team. Board members Hon Lien and Kelly Yip Chuan partnered with several community organizations, friends and volunteers to make and distribute thousands of masks to parents and students. Board members Michael Tsai and Minh Ngo both volunteered to distribute food, masks and other PPE supplies around the town. Teamwork makes the dream work!
MUSD EducatEveryWhere v.1.0 began as a one-stop shop for coronavirus information, resources to teachers, and new roles and responsibilities for team members. MUSD EducatEveryWhere 2.0 now includes resources for parents of students receiving special education services, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) ideas, how-to videos, and numerous lesson plans developed by MUSD teachers and others to support distance learning
The MUSD leadership team continues to find ways to strike a balance between human safety, supporting our students online effectively, and when possible, bringing our students in most need to one of several onsite campus locations across the district for in person learning support. We are ramping up our staff testing and researching vaccination site possibilities through multiple avenues. MUSD EducatEverWhere v. 3.0 is on the horizon…….
To learn more about MUSD EducatEveryWhere visit:
To learn more about MUSD COVID-19 testing and planning visit:
More to come.....