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Woman Whose Son Has Special-Needs Proposes New Charter School

LOS ANGELES ( — A Southland mother is determined to make sure her son with a disability gets a good education.

Ivey Steinberg says her 12-year-old named Jack is a straight-A student despite his condition called optic nerve hypoplasia.

She says the condition causes her son's brain to be disconnected from his body, while his mind is as sharp as a tack.

Today, Steinberg is asking the Los Angeles Unified District's school board to approve a proposal for a new charter high school run by the WISH organization.

Jack presently attends a charter middle school also operated by the WISH organization where his mother says he is getting a great education in regular classrooms with students without disabilities who embrace him.

She says the proposed new high school would be a wish come true for students with special-needs.

"My message to the board today is, 'This is your opportunity. This is your shot. You say you serve all children? Prove it,' " she said.

But attorney Janeen Steel, the executive director of the Learning Rights Center, gives the LAUSD a "D" for its accessibility to disabled students.

Steel points to a letter by the independent monitor assigned to keep an eye on LA Unified under a consent decree which says LA Unified has recognized "that over a billion dollars is necessary to address the long-standing failure of non-compliance with the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act]."

"Either the facility is not accessible or the staff is not aware of how to make it accessible," she said.

The LA Unified staff had nothing negative to say about the proposed WISH high school's proposals for students with special-needs.

But the district staff is recommending the project be denied because the WISH organization is "demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the educational program" and that "the organization is struggling both financially and operationally."

Steinberg says these reasons aren't good enough to deny a program which would allow children with special-needs like her son to realize their dreams.

"I could not be more proud to be his mother," she said. "I love you so much."

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