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About Us

ACE is a California Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporation.


We operate from an unwavering belief in the innate capacity of all people to meaningfully contribute to their families and society!

OUR MISSION


ACE is dedicated to helping parents ensure their children receive awn appropriate and lawful education. An appropriate and lawful education is one in which a child is treated lawfully and all procedures are followed properly in the treatment of school children who may or do have disabilities. We also  help ensure psychoeducational evaluations are interpreted meaningfully for parents and that these assessments are used responsibly, in conjunction with other forms of data, to produce a free and appropriate public education for students with disabilities. We believe every disabled student who graduates public school should read, write, perform calculations and function socially in society. We do this by helping parents participate in the special education IEP process and by conducting parent advocacy training.

THE PROBLEM

Disabled students have a 40% national drop out rate and are not graduating with the skills that American compulsory public education promises every child. Disabled children are all too often left behind despite the promises of No Child Left Behind. Many students face unique sets of disabilities requiring individualized services and systematic treatment to ensure success in school and produce functional adult behavior. All too often, special needs students are thrown into one-size-fits-all programs providing instruction that many students are not able to benefit from at best and systematically denied procedurally lawful behavior in order to save school district budget money.

It is a fact that Special Education budget money that is not spent at the end of a fiscal period may lawfully be transferred to the general education budget. Furthermore, the average suburban district spends upwards of $350,000 annual on attorney fees to fight parents from getting requested placements, services, and remediations for their children. In the preamble of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its predecessor The Education for All Handicapped Act, the law is based upon the assumption that school members of the IEP team and districts themselves tend to make decisions that favor school budgets at the expense of individual children. Therefore, the IDEA makes the parent the child's advocate, assuming the parent is the one person in the group most likely to look out for the child's best interest in the face of paid school staff and administrators that make decisions in favor of bureaucratic budgets. 
 
Parents, however, are often ill prepared to advocate for their children. Brenda Rogers dissertation research  found that most parents whose children had an IEP were not able to identify their child's exact disability. How is a parent to advocate for a child when the parent often doesn't know why the child is failing in school? Furthermore, parents who had some experience advocating for their child within an IEP explained that they were only successful at getting help for their children when attorneys were involved. The vast majority of children have parents who cannot afford attorneys to ensure that their children receive lawful treatment in school while receiving a free and appropriate public education. In fact, Rogers found that until parents felt that the school was actually doing something wrong to their children, parents were not likely to disagree with the IEP team and take on the role of advocate. Therefore, it is easy to see why so many children with disabilities drop-out of school prior to graduation. 

School failure often results in drop-outs. School failure and dropping out of high school are the highest ranked correlates of crime, imprisonment, welfare recipiency and poverty. Jean Stewart and Marta Russell report that “Rates of learning disability are spectacularly high among prisoners; in studies conducted among incarcerated juveniles, learning disabilities have been estimated to occur in up to 55 percent of youth nationwide; in one single-state study, 70 percent of youth qualified for special education. As for mental disabilities, in California anywhere from one-sixth to one-fourth of prisoners are believed to have diagnosable “serious mental disorders.” Most stunning of all is a four-state study which examined juveniles imprisoned for capital offenses; virtually 100 percent of those studied were multiply disabled (neurological impairment, psychiatric illness, cognitive deficits), having suffered serious central nervous system injuries resulting from extreme physical and sexual abuse since early childhood” (2001, Volume 53, Issue 03 (July-August)/Disablement, Prison, and Historical Segregation). Furthermore, According to Caroline Wolf Harlow Ph.D., Bureau of Justice Statistician, 68% of state prisoners do not have a high school diploma, 59% of all prisoners have a speech disability, and 66% have a reported learning disability.

Are schools are creating future prisoners and welfare recipients? When children attending compulsory education insitutions do not get the help they need from the adults entrusted to lawfully deliver a Free and Appropriate Public Education to children with disabilities,  futures are shaped that funnel children into adult roles as participants in government corrections and social services institutions. 

WORKING TOWARD CHANGE

On an individual level, some relief is provided to some families through advocacy. However, working parents, very low-income parents, and parents lacking educational skills fall through the cracks because they either can't afford advocacy or can't utilize their rights. Our approach side-steps income and educational issues by:

  1. offering sliding scale advocacy
  2. training parents in our new IEP Game method that provides a new middle ground vocabulary for constructing IEPs
  3. building community accountability through our peer advocate and peer monitor network system
  4. utilizing the state complaint system
  5. training parent advocates and expanding our advocacy staff

OUR BOARD


Access Center for Education is a parent led non-profit. We have Parents from various backgrounds on our board of directors. Our Board members include parents of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, Learning Disabilities, and Emotional Disturbances. Our parents have a range of professional experience to bring to the table including: Occupational Therapist, Child Psychiatry, Nursing, Social Work, and Advocacy.
 
 
Service Description: Special Education Consulting for Parents in Los Angeles and Orange County, California

ACE Consultants provide:

  1. Explanations of special education rights, procedures, and responsibilities
  2. Thorough Document Review 
  3. Creation of a parent concerns letter to be attached to each IEP. The parent concerns letter is created using the client files, present levels of performance, research, and the chronological history of events as experienced by the parents and child.
  4. Support for parents by attending 504 or IEP meetings with them
  5. Recommendations and options for parents regarding educational needs, including testing, remediation, placement, and services
  6. Negotiation with school districts on behalf of children and parents
  7. Trainings and information designed to increase parent participation in IEP meetings
  8. Referall to trusted attorneys if needed.

We do this by

  1. Gathering facts and information that document the child's history as it affects education
  2. Conducting intake and strategy meetings where parents design goals, objectives and prepare a document reflecting their input to the IEP team
  3. Being active in the Special Education community on behalf of all parents and children

ACE Special Education Consultants

  1. Are not attorneys, though we can refer you to attorneys we have experience working with should you need one
  2. Cannot guarantee a particular outcome in your child's IEP meeting
  3. Reserve the right to refuse service to anyone and to terminate the client relationship if appropriate

GETTING STARTED

  • We require copies of all records pertaining to the child's education (testing/assessments/psycho-educational reports, IEPs, report cards, Regional Center reports, assessment plans, IEP invitations)
  • We will review these documents. If we think we can help, we will send you a consulting contract and schedule an intake meeting.
  • An ACE advocate will appear at IEP meetings with you if you so choose; at your option we can help you prepare for an IEP meeting that you will attend on your own
  • Contact Us for Contracting an Advocate
Brenda Rogers MA/ABD

Our Executive Director and Lead Advocate:
Brenda Rogers MA/ABD | Executive Director / Advocate

Brenda earned her Bachelors Degree in Criminology, Law and Society in 1998 from UC Irvine, a Masters Degree, from UCI, in 2001 and advanced to candidacy for a Ph.D. in sociology in 2003. Brenda has taught at several Southern California colleges and universities between 2001 and 2009 and has been advocating for disabled students since 1998. After founding Access Center in 2004, Brenda expanded her specialization from learning disabilities and hyperactivity, to emotional disturbances, developmental disabilities, speech and language disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In 2005, Brenda created the IEP Game and has been training professionals and parents around the country in socio-legal educational advocacy with the IEP Game case analysis method.

Brenda has trained professionals and parents at: at the Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education, the International Learning Disabilities Association, The National Organization for Disorders of the Corpus Callosum, The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Orange County Social Services, LA County Housing Authority, UCLA Teacher Training Program, Orange County Foster Care Association, Yorba Linda School District,  Costa Mesa Girls Inc., and the Americore Teacher Training Program.