BY Stephanie Garibay
The Los Angeles Community College District helped shed light on equal access to LACCD educational opportunities for disabled students with a disability summit Friday morning.
Faculty and staff from all LACCD schools were invited to East Los Angeles college’s S2 Recital Hall to learn about the American With Disabilities Act, and how they can best apply and understand essential practices with the ADA mandate.
The ADA mandate is a federal civil-rights statute protecting the rights of people with disabilities.
“The ADA means acceptance to me. A person’s disability is an ability not yet recognized,” Michael Jordan Griggs said, a student with a disability and a former student trustee.
In the 2014-2015 fiscal year, there were 271 students with learning disabilities in the LACCD schools.
Carilla Clements was one of the students.
Clements was diagnosed with three learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Disorder.
Because of her learning disabilities, Clements was never able to pass a math or science class which lead to her dropping out of school for 25 years.
“I always considered myself an academic failure,” Clements said.
After 25 years, Clements decided to give school another try.
She started attending East Los Angeles College and utilized the tutoring services as well as the Disabled Student Program and Services department (DSP&S), which helped her transfer to California State University Los Angeles.
“I graduated this summer with a bachelor’s of science degree from CSULA in rehabilitation services counseling and my GPA is 3.7 at the age of 46,” Clements said.
Clements did not have much confidence in herself when it came to school, but when speaking with the counselors at ELAC, she felt more hopeful.
“They sat me down one day and they said ‘Carilla, we believe in you so much that we will not let you give up on yourself and one day we will be there at your graduation’ and that is exactly what happened,” Clements said.
Key note speakers included Paul Grossman, a chief regional civil rights attorney for the US department of education.
Grossman suffered dyslexia and was counseled in a non-college that would be a vocational program in high school. Due to the impact of his dyslexia on his academic performance, he eventually dropped out of college.
As an attorney, Grossman focused on educational discrimination and disability law.
“Individuals with disabilities who do not obtain a college degree are going to have a really hard time gaining employment,” said Grossman.
Individuals with a psychiatric disability who do not obtain a college degree have a 90 percent unemployment rate in the U.S.
“No individuals benefit more from going to college than those with disabilities” said Grossman.
Growing up, Grossman faced many obstacles because of his disability. In a meeting with a counselor, his parents were told he was not college material.
“They told my parents ‘Your son is not college material, but we know of a good auto body shop that we think would be perfect for your son to work at,” Grossman said.
Grossman ended up dropping out of college, but later decided to give it one more try and graduated at the top of his class.