Principal gives presentation on Paloma Creek High School and ACE Academy

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD) met for their regularly scheduled trustee meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. At the meeting, parents within the district brought concerns to the trustee board on bullying and the lack of consistency in special education classrooms throughout the district.

At the start of the meeting, Principal Dr. Libby Madding gave a presentation on Paloma Creek High School and Atascadero Choices in Education (ACE) Academy.

“AUSD Alternative Education Programs, what a treat it is for me to be able to be principal of the AUSD Alternative Education Programs,” stated Madding.


Madding went over ACE’s Jumpstart to College, where students can earn their associate degree through Cuesta College at the same time as graduating from high school. She also went over the new Student Orientation Group at Paloma Creek. She also talked about the Amplified Program, where Paloma Creek High School students go over to Santa Rosa Elementary School every Thursday to meet up and read together with Santa Rosa students.

“Our goal for Amplified is not just on establishing and building relationships, but it’s really about taking those relationships into the realm of getting young people to love literacy and to love reading,” Madding said.

The minutes and consent agenda were approved unanimously.

Assistant Superintendant of Business Services Jackie Martin presented the trustee board with six items that were either routine or included 5.2 salary increases for Confidential/Supervisory, Special Services, Certified Management, Classified Management, the Superintendant, Assistant Superintendant of Business Service, Assistant Superintendant of Educational Services, Assistant Superintendant of Human Resources, and the Executive Director of Technology. All six items passed unanimously. 

The next item was the Student Intervention Services Update, which was given by director Cynthia Ravalin and the executive director of SLO SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area) Amber Gallagher. This was an information-only item on Special Education in AUSD and their partnership with SLO SELPA.

“As of fall 22, we had 680 students who had qualified and were receiving services within the county. As of today, we’re at 699 students that we serve, and there’s 31 students who are currently under assessment throughout the school sites,” said Ravalin.

She stressed that most of the students in the district are all general education students first and are made to be part of the school community and that most of them spend the majority of their day in general education classes.

“We are unique to California,” Gallagher said at the beginning of her part of the presentation. “There’s 136 SELPAs, and we oversee geographical regions across the state to ensure students with disabilities have a continuum of services and supports available to them, as well as ensuring that the special education programs meet the standards that set forth by the California Department of Education.” 

SELPA provides technical assistance to the school district, educator support, parent support, and they also provide alternative dispute prevention and resolution.

“So when conflict does occur within the special education process, SELPA can be called upon to support both our families and our school districts in navigating that conflict in the spirit of ensuring that the student has a well-developed IEP that is going to be implemented to meet their needs within their everyday educational program,” Gallagher added.

After Ravalin and Gallagher spoke, the informational item was opened up for public comment, where three parents addressed the board on their dissatisfaction with the AUSD special education side of things.

One parent stated that her child has been bullied by the same student since pre-school. Both students are now in high school, and both are in special education classes together. She asked what disciplinary actions happen when bullying is occurring in the setting.

The two other parents who spoke, one reading a letter on behalf of another parent, asked for more consistency in the classrooms for their special education students and that aides get moved around too much within the district.

As it was an information-only item, the speakers were not addressed after they spoke.

The next regularly scheduled AUSD school board meeting will be on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m.