Wednesday, April 24, 2024

As parents and caregivers of students with special needs, we are pleased that the School Committee has decided to seek and appoint an interim schools superintendent. We urge the committee members to identify a qualified, experienced interim school superintendent who does not currently work for the district. An external candidate working with Dr. Kenneth Salim and the School Committee would add additional capacity and bring a fresh perspective, making positive progress and bringing our community together as we focus on our students. The Special Education Parents Advisory Committee has identified the following qualities and characteristics we would like to see in an interim schools superintendent, as well as, a long-term school superintendent:

The Cambridge schools superintendent …

1. Comes with an antiracist and anti-oppressive lens and a commitment to racial equity and education for liberation for students including those with different learning needs and abilities.

2. Demonstrates authentic, inclusive leadership and prioritizes the needs of students who experience marginalization, especially Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) students.

3. Demonstrates record of valuing, effectively partnering with and transparently sharing accurate data with families, caregivers and community members, especially those with the least power and social capital.

4. Has special education training and experience.

5. Implements screening and early intervention for early childhood students and intensive interventions for older students who are significantly behind their age and grade level peers.

6. Has high expectations for students with special needs and has improved outcomes for students them, especially supporting students to successfully achieve postgraduate success, including completion of higher education and/or professional certification.

7. Is committed to providing all students with special needs, including students in sub-separate classrooms, the same curriculum as their typical peers, including receiving regular report cards to ensure that adequate grade level progress is made.

8. Champions curriculum that is accessible, effective and incorporates universal design learning principles.

9. Ensures that schools are using science, research and evidence-based reading curriculum.

We look forward to working with the School Committee in the search for the next superintendent. We welcome the chance to collaborate in finding a candidate who will have the interests of students with special needs at heart. When schools are designed to work for students with special needs, it benefits all students.

Bernette Dawson, Karen Dobak, Lisa Downing, Gardite Fougy, Zuleka Queen-Postell, Rosalie Rippey, Cambria Russell, Mercedes Soto and Ena Valenzuela

The signers are parents and caregivers of students with special needs.