After receiving a devastating indictment from the California Department of Education (CDE) in the form of 226 corrective actions, TVUSD Special Education Director Kimberly Velez seems to be mimicking the increasingly erratic behavior of her boss, Superintendent Timothy Ritter. Last week, Velez continued the recent trend of TVUSD administrators hijacking school board meetings and turning them into pep rallies aimed solely at the audience in the room.
[pullquote align=”right” color=”#EF7C43″ class=””]Kimberly Velez appears to be more concerned with saving face than protecting the children she was hired to serve.[/pullquote]
In a display that can charitably be described as bizarre, Velez used last week’s school board meeting to share a taxpayer-bankrolled PowerPoint presentation filled with multiple photos of her smiling for the camera, with big colorful letter grades plastered across the slides – nothing lower than an “A” of course. The message here? Even though the CDE gave Kim Velez’s leadership of TVUSD’s Special Education department an “F”, Velez thinks she deserves an “A”.
Had Velez been less concerned about gifting the taxpayers and her staff with pictures of herself, she may have found time to address some serious issues.
- The nine special education children who were entrapped in the abusive drug sting, Operation Glass House, which Timothy Ritter personally authorized and has led to Velez being personally sued.
- The pattern of changing educational documents, after being signed by parents, as identified in the CDE report.
- The misappropriated special education funds that never made it to a Temecula charter school, also identified in the CDE report.
Of course, these are just a few items of a very long list.
At the school board meeting, she was quick to point to the “Adult Transition Program”, which TVUSD is federally mandated to provide to special education students, but under Velez, our son Jesse’s adult transition services were laughable. For career preparation, TVUSD actually determined that they would prepare Jesse for a career as a sign spinner, a skill that can be mastered with or without a diploma. And the highlight of the life skills training he received consisted of a trip across the street to buy food at Jack-in-the-Box.
Velez also complained that the California Government does allow TVUSD to count students who receive certificates of completion when calculating graduation statistics, because during Velez’s tenure, TVUSD has routinely twisted the arms of special education parents to commit to a certificate of completion for their child instead of a diploma. Any time a special education student is removed from the diploma path, the district is off the hook for meeting specific educational goals and they are obligated to supply only a bare minimum of support. So while Velez apparently considers a certificate of completion to be good enough for the special education kids of Temecula, the reality of what that actually looks like makes it appear that Velez would gladly throw kids under the bus in order to bolster her stats.
As the graphic below illustrates, a student who receives a certificate of completion faces a future that is roughly comparable to that of a person with at least two drug-related felonies on their record. And the irony is that every student who was entrapped in Tim Ritter’s Operation Glass House was charged with at least two drug-related felonies.
(E)mployers interviewed showed the least likelihood of hiring those with certificates with almost half (44%) indicating they would not or are not sure. Just a little over half (55%) indicated a willingness to hire those with a certificate. Employers indicated that they would hire people with certificates to perform jobs such as “cleaning floors, sinks, and stools; caring for animals; shredding paper; vacuuming cars; housekeeping; doing laundry; washing dishes; bussing tables; preparing food; cutting books; and pulling weeds.”
A certificate of completion and a diploma are not equivalent when it comes to job eligibility. Students who have only earned a certificate do not usually qualify for jobs that require a high school diploma, for instance. Certificate-holders are also not usually eligible to matriculate into colleges or universities. Even trade schools and most community colleges require actual diplomas.
Johnson, D. R., & Thurlow, M. L. (2003). A national study on graduation requirements and diploma options for youth with disabilities (Technical Report 36). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes. Retrieved May 25, 2015, from the World Wide Web: http://education.umn.edu/NCEO/OnlinePubs/Technical36.htm
Donna Volpitta, Ed.D. What’s the Difference Between a High School Diploma and a Certificate of Completion? Retrieved May 25, 2015, from the World Wide Web: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/choosing-changing-schools/leaving-high-school/whats-the-difference-between-a-high-school-diploma-and-a-certificate-of-completion