Experience and priorities regarding special education

What would you like SEPAC members to know about your experience and priorities regarding special education?

I feel equality in the schools is extremely important.  Having family members who had special needs during their elementary and middle school years, has helped me appreciate the challenges special needs families face on a daily basis. 

Almost every decision of the Administration and the Board of Education has consequences for the special needs families in our school district.

My priorities, if elected, would be to ensure that all students in the special education program are receiving all the services they need to enable them to thrive in our school system and beyond.  One of my first priorities would be to hire a permanent Director of Special Services, and to insure a more efficient process for the adoption of 504 and IEPs.

My second priority would be to bring paraprofessionals back in-house to insure proper training and monitoring of these employees.  This will give our students consistency and continuity with staff members who will interact with the children every day.

Lastly, I believe that the district needs to better communicate with the parents of special needs children to help parents navigate this long and sometimes complicated and complex system.  This will insure that the children’s needs are being met each and every day.

All children within the district must be given the same opportunities to succeed.

The Special Education Administration has begun taking several steps to improve services in district schools with the goal of reducing reliance on out-of-district placements to serve our most at-risk students.  What are your thoughts on these steps, and what should the Administrations priorities be?

One of our district’s biggest expenses is that of out-of-district placements, due to the fact that we do not have the appropriate facilities and infrastructure to allow these students to succeed in our own schools.  The administration must make it a priority to improve our facilities and infrastructure to enable all the students within the district to thrive academically, socially and emotionally in inclusive classrooms within the district.

As part of the $160 million dollar facilities plan, the administration should set aside space for inclusion classes, self-contained classrooms as well has the necessary therapy rooms to accommodate all students.

All teachers and paraprofessionals (hopefully in-house) need to be trained appropriately in the special needs curriculum and the means by which to help these students thrive socially, academically and emotionally.

The administration must insure that it is following appropriate laws pertaining to special education and BOE Policies.  The Board of Education must provide adequate resources via budget allocation for special needs students.  Any deficiencies in the budget for special needs students must be explained and/or remedied with more funding.