Program for Bilingual Parents of Special Education Students Awarded Statewide Golden Bell Award

California School Board Association (CSBA) Recognizes Parent-Driven Fiesta Educativa Program and Five Additional District Programs in Riverside County

Golden-Bell-250RIVERSIDE – For the fourth consecutive year, a Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) program has been awarded the California School Boards Association’s Golden Bell, an honor bestowed upon five outstanding educational programs in Riverside County among dozens of honorees throughout the state at an awards ceremony held in December in San Diego.

RCOE’s Fiesta Educativa program originated in response to the requests and needs of bilingual parents for special education information, support, and training so they could more fully understand and participate in the educational processes for their disabled children.

“Fiesta Educativa is a prime example of parent and community partnerships in its truest form,” said Diana Walsh-Reuss, Associate Superintendent for RCOE . “Over 30 years of research and experience has proven that the education of children with disabilities is made more effective by strengthening the role and responsibility of parents and families.”

Fiesta Educativa’s family-based activities include family support groups, community outreach, educational workshops and training, special needs advocacy, and parent leadership development. The program has empowered a generation of parents in becoming knowledgeable about their rights and their children’s needs, thus making them more effective participants and advocates.

A prominent aspect of Fiesta Educativa is an annual conference for Spanish-speaking parents of children with disabilities that is planned, implemented, and led by parents. The conference and activities are open to the parents of the approximately 44,000 children ages birth through 22 years who access special education services in all 23 districts within Riverside County—approximately 50% of which are Latino. (CLICK HERE for conference information.)

Golden Bell awards were also bestowed upon five programs within the districts of Riverside County. The 2015 Riverside County district honorees include:

  • Nuview Union School District – Nuview Elementary Schools – “Collaborative Data Teams”
  • Nuview Union School District – Nuview Bridge Early College High School – “Early College and Dual Credit Program”
  • Coachella Valley Unified School District – “AmeriCorps-Promote”
  • Moreno Valley Unified School District – “Parent Engagement Leadership Initiative”
  • Jurupa Unified School District – “Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports”

Attending the December awards ceremony in San Diego were Susan Rainey, Riverside County Board of Education President; Kenneth Young, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools; Diana Walsh-Reuss, Associate Superintendent for RCOE; Ann Vessey, Executive Director, Special Education for RCOE; Jan Powell, Principal, Special Education for RCOE; Alma Rodriguez and Sal Mendez Parent/Co-Chairs, Fiesta Educativa.

This is 36th year the California School Boards Association has presented its Golden Bell Award, its highest recognition for state educational programs in 17 categories. The awards reflect the depth and breadth of education programs and governance decisions supporting these programs that are necessary to address students’ changing needs. A 28-member judging panel selects the awardees that represent best practices in education in all areas of operations, instruction and support services.