Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability and education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more
Sacramento, CA, September 7 – Republican candidate and nonprofit President Rhonda Furin has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility has reached out to candidates in California’s critical gubernatorial recall election. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Furin’s responses follows:
EDUCATION & SKILLS: What is your plan to ensure that all students with disabilities, including English Language Learners, receive an appropriate education to acquire critical and marketable skills?
I was a Special Education Teacher for many years. I taught RSP, SDC, in both the Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Severe categories, including but not limited to Autism, Deaf/Blindness, Severe Mental Retardation and Emotional Disturbances. As a teacher, I was instructed by HLPUSD Compliance attorneys on how ro answer and write up IEP’s as to limit services needed or required. The ultimate conclusion to a meeting was to service the student with the least amount of assistive technology and specialists, such as APE, OT, SLS,or one to one instructional aides. This was designed to save the districts from payouts/costs on disability services. This actually made it more difficult for the special education teacher, parent, an aide, and even the student. As the student got older, the needs were greater because of this denial. It is best to address the needs at the youngest age possible.The chance and ability for progress is greater. I once had a set of triplets, whose primary language was Spanish. Two of the girls were placed in my RSP program and the other was relocated to a Deaf/Blindness School. It was difficult as the girls were all being taught in English and the barrier to the home setting was most critical to making progress. Home support was greatly needed. It’s sad that Public Schools deny the services and skills needed for student success. School Choice is needed so that parents have an option to find schools that provide these accommodations. I believe funds need to follow the child and parent. I will always support Students with disabilities. I once attended a conference in Diamond Bar put on by my SELPA, in which the presenter told us that prison beds were determined by the number of enrolled SPED students. I proudly disagreed with a comment, “THat would be NONE of MY STUDENTS.”
EMPLOYMENT & ENTREPRENEURSHIP: If elected, what will you do to advance opportunities for people with disabilities who want to work and earn an income, just like anyone else? How will you support employers, large and small, to recruit and hire workers with disabilities?
As a disabled person, from a work related injury, I am now running to be California’s Next Governor. After the release from my physician to return to HLPUSD, I was denied my return to work. I later did some research into the unsafe working conditions at the school district, and the number of people refused to return to work. One of which was a past instructional aid. The HR Superintendent forced her into retirement. The cases that involve this include two past lawsuits, Margaret Hesselgrave and Betty Ruelas both sued the district and won nearly one million dollars. Since when are Administrators, Union Leaders, School Boards and Tax Accountants medical doctors determining whether one may return to work or not. I exposed the level of corruption and discrimination by filing a DOJ criminal investigation into them. Disabled people are not permanently disabled from employment and employees must accommodate disabilities without ASKING for medical information. My last principal, Elizabeth Bermejo at Valinda Academy requested in writing from her teachers/ staff write down all their disabilities and medications they took. I clearly told her as the Union Representative at the school, this was illegal and each letter she sent out was in violation to the employee. As California’s Next Governor, I will protect ADA and uphold the laws.
ACCESS & INCLUSION: Whether or not you have a formal platform, what specific plans do you have to incorporate the voices of people with disabilities into your decision-making processes, if elected?
I have many friends and acquaintances that are disabled. I will make sure they have a voice that is heard in my administration. Accommodations will be made for success at every level. Disabled workers are a valuable asset to our society.
FIGHTING STIGMAS: If elected, what will be your plan to fight stigmas, highlight the disability community, and promote higher expectations for success?
I will make sure I am the spokesperson to fight the stigma that disabled people face in the workplace. Negligence in safety that results in work accidents will protect the worker. As California’s Next Governor that Voice will be heard and success for all will be promised.
OTHER KEY ISSUES: What additional policies and priorities, other than those already discussed above, do you plan to focus on to improve the lives of people with disabilities?
Disabled individuals have been discriminated against in housing developments, criminal justice, climate issues, voting rights, and transportation. All issues will be addressed with proper task forces to investigate any violations and targeting of ADA, whistleblowers, and injured workers. I stand firm on enforcing policies to protect and improve the lives of ADA people. It is a goal of mine and a legacy that will be remembered in my administration.
Furin is one of many candidates who are competing in California’s special gubernatorial recall election. For a full list of candidates running in the September 14 recall election and to learn more about voting, please visit the California Secretary of State’s 2021 CA Gubernatorial Recall Election website at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections.
RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. View more coverage of California candidates on our website.