In response to advocates who asked whether special needs children will be eligible under Mayor Julian Castro’s “Pre-K 4 SA” initiative, a campaign spokesman said, “Yes, it will serve the needs of all children.”
Voters will decide Nov. 6 whether the city’s sales tax should be increased by an eighth of a cent to pay for free, full-day classes for eligible 4-year-olds.
However, like the vast majority of an estimated 3,700 children the first year, those with special needs will be chosen by a lottery, according to Rebecca Flores, the city’s education policy and services administrator.
But even if they are lucky enough to be selected, Flores said they will have to meet their individual school district’s special needs criteria. She said that would involve a committee that typically includes the child’s parents.
Flores said the program’s city-sponsored centers will work school districts to determine the most appropriate setting and whether additional services are needed for those students.
“The center will make sure that services in the student’s individual educational plan are implemented,” Flores said.
Up to now, advocates said the Pre-k 4 SA campaign has said nothing about special needs children.
“Where are our children in this? Nothing has been said as to how many children with special needs will be serviced by this program,” said Laura Juarez, a local special needs advocate.
Pamela Espurvoa, also a special needs advocate, said they still would rather hear the mayor speak directly to their concerns.
“Say welcome, please come into our program. We are here to serve everyone in the City of San Antonio. This is an inclusive program,” Espurvoa said.