Last Saturday, 20-year-old Amanda Andreson waited in line to get a free toy at the Special Needs Network’s annual brunch with Santa. The blue bracelet around her small wrist meant she was eligible for a toy from the toddler section. Although she is nearly 21-years-old, Amanda still has the mental capacity of a 14-month-old baby.
She is just one of about 72,000 disabled students in LAUSD that will be impacted by the Jan. 10 teachers strike. Teachers plan to walk out for the first time in 30 years.
Amanda’s school, Pacific Boulevard Elementary, used to be a center for special education. There are still hundreds of special needs children there. If their principal has to pull resources from special education to take care of other children, her mom is worried that a walk out will create an unsafe environment.
“She needs adult supervision at all times,” said Rosa Andresen at the event.
Amanda can’t speak to communicate her needs, so she tends to lash out by hitting, scratching or pulling hair when she needs attention.
Spectrum News 1 reached out to the principal at Amanda’s school about her plans for the strike but have not heard back.
Amanda's mom and other parents of special needs children tell Spectrum News 1 they plan to cross the picket line to make sure their children are safe on LAUSD campuses during the strike. If there aren’t enough substitutes, they will either volunteer or keep their children home.
Andreson supports teachers but thinks their demands, like hiring more support staff, are out of line with the district’s budget.
“Basically, we want a nurse for every school but we have to be realistic,” she said.
“We don’t have the personnel or the funds.”