Chandler sparks discussion about ALSDE proposed changes

Published 2:39 pm Wednesday, November 11, 2015

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HOOVER—In October, the Alabama State Department of Education proposed several changes to the Alabama Administrative Code that will impact the timing and procedure for special education due process complaints. Birmingham area parents will have a chance to learn about the changes at an informational meeting at the Homewood Public Library on Nov. 12.

Dustin Chandler

Dustin Chandler

Inverness resident and father of a child with special needs, Dustin Chandler, suggested the Nov. 12 meeting after attending two of the three ALSDE public forums in October. Forums were held in Montgomery, Cullman and Saraland.

Chandler is an advocate for individuals with special needs. He has organized numerous events and projects, including the grassroots efforts behind Carly’s Law; Skydive 4 CDKL5, an annual event raising awareness and money for rare disorders and CDKL5 research; and Carly’s Clubhouse, an all-inclusive playground project in Pelham.

“I felt strongly that there should be one in the Birmingham-metro area,” Chandler said. “Parents need to know this is going to be put on the table early next year to the (state) school board.”

According to the Alabama Department of Education due process complaints address “any matter relating to the identification, evaluation or educational placement of a child with a disability or the provision of (free appropriate public education) to the child.” The proposed changes will impact the way parents file complaints, Chandler explained.

Representatives from the Alabama Parent Education Center and Birmingham-based attorney Deborah Mattison will be at the Nov. 12 meeting to explain the proposed changes and speak with parents about how their children may be affected.

“Its really an informational session to let people know what these changes are and how they’ll impact their children,” Chandler said.

Chandler said many of the parents of special needs children he’s spoken with either did not understand or where unaware of the proposed changes.

“I’ve talked to several parents of children with special needs, and they had no clue these changes could be made,” Chandler said. “I’d venture to say a majority of special education parents around the state don’t know these changes are being proposed.”

The informational meeting is open to all and will be held at the Homewood Public Library on Nov. 12 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.