Special Education not getting services

POLACCA, ARIZ. - James Lomakema told the Hopi Jr/Sr High School Governing Board that he will file a complaint in federal court because his special education child is not getting the services she is required to get, according to the law.

Lomakema spoke during the call to the public during the governing board meeting on Dec. 8.

According to state law, the board cannot take action during the call to the public.

Lomakema said that his wife and himself have met with school officials several times about the lack of services for his daughter, but have not received any formal response.

"I try to be patient and loyal (to the school), but we're also parents," he said.

Lomakema said he tried to talk to then Hopi Jr/Sr High School Superintendent Gregory Sackos after Sackos spoke to the Hopi Tribal Council about a BIA non compliance report. Lomakema asked Sackos why he didn't talk about deficiencies in the special education department.

"He just shoed me away like a fly," Lomakema said. "I am a Hopi tribal member on my reservation. How dare he treat me that way."

Lomakema said he speaks with emotion about this issue.

"I am frustrated and upset that it came to this point. It didn't have to come to this point," he said.

Lomakema said he doesn't usually speak out on issues, but he feels he has to do so when there is a wrong against himself, his family or his tribe.

Sackos later told the Observer that he couldn't talk about specific cases, but every parent, including special education parents, should advocate for their children. He also said that this includes teachers or staff who have children attending Hopi Jr/Sr High School. He said there would be no retribution for employee/parents who advocate for their children.

Later in the school board meeting, special education Director Kym Dashee told the school board that the special education department is lacking three teachers and four paraprofessionals.

Valerie Kooyaquaptewa, a board member, said the school needs to be more proactive in hiring personnel for the special education department.

Laverne Lomakema, James' wife, told the board that her daughter has gone two months with an expired Individual Education Plan (IEP).

Dashee commended the special education teachers and staff for making sure all the paperwork is done.

"It's been a long stressful semester," she said.

The board and Dashee discussed that several schools, both on and off the reservation, have shortages in the special education area.

In other school business, the Hopi Jr/Sr High School Governing Board appointed Charles Gover as interim superintendent and Harvey Honyouti as interim high school principal.

Troy Lomavaya resigned from the school board after a recent recall petition.

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