Dustin Chandler knows how to bring people together around a common cause.
As the driving force behind Carly’s Law, which legally authorized the University of Alabama at Birmingham to conduct a study of the effects of cannabinoid, or CBD, oil for children suffering seizure disorders, he knows how to move people toward a goal.
He’s now using his talent for community-building to bring families of children with special needs in Hoover together with teachers and administrators to find new and better ways to ensure special education works for children.
Chandler will hold the first meeting of the Special Education Community Alliance, or SECA, on Wednesday, August 3, at the Spain Park High School Library at 4700 Jaguar Drive in Hoover. The meeting starts at 6:00 p.m.
Chandler said he wants everybody to attend, including administrators, special education teachers, general education teachers, community leaders as well as parents and families in order to build a community around special education and have a good conversation about what positive changes can be made.
When asked why he’s putting effort into starting the group, he said, “We need a unified front to talk about education, to network with each other. We need a voice when policies are being made [that affect our children].”
He said that in many cases children with special needs, who make up about 11% of the total student population, are forgotten when it comes to determining what works in education.
Chandler has been vocal during the past year about changes to the complaint process pushed by the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE). Those changes are currently on hold, and Chandler has been working with officials at the ALSDE to ensure the process remains fair to children and families.
The Alabama School Connection has extensively covered the low achievement rates of children with special needs, and how neighboring states are showing higher achievement levels with children with special needs.
Chandler is clear that he believes the group can work together in a positive way and believes that all agree that “we want the best education for our kids”.
He has set up a Facebook page to facilitate communication.
Though this meeting originally was set to bring Hoover’s families and teachers together, Chandler is open to helping other communities start their own SECA group.
Chandler said a group of parents from Trussville City Schools have contacted him about forming a group in their community.
He hopes the group will grow organically to address the needs of children and families in special education. This first meeting will be to ask attendees what they want the SECA to be and how it can best serve the community, Chandler said.