109 Board Grills Staff on Resource Periods
Administration, teachers present ideas on special education to Board, community.
Restoration of middle school resource periods has been a major sore point vocalized by parents throughout the contract negotiations between Deerfield Public Schools District 109 and the Deerfield Education Association teacher’s union.
A majority of School Board members demonstrated they were listening to the comments over the last five months during a Committee of the Whole meeting Monday at Shepard Middle School.
For more than two hours Assistant Superintendent for Learning Paula Owsiak, Director of Student Services Jenell Mroz and six special education teachers told more than 80 people at the meeting about the short and long term plans for special education in the district.
Not once was the word resource period mentioned but as soon as the presentation was over, Board members Nick Begley, Michael Rosenbaum, Deborah Muller and Ron Worth grilled Owsiak and Superintendent Renee Goier about it.
"Where are the resource periods?" Rosenbaum said. “They are one of our main concerns. Our teachers felt less connected to the children. Will there be a return of resource periods? Is this part of your research?” he asked about the statistically heavy presentation.
Goier and Owsiak explained each student’s needs would be handled through their individual educational plans (IEP). An IEP is a program developed for each individual student in cooperation with teachers, staff and parents. More than 500 of the District’s 3,100 students have an IEP.
“We’ll look into each student’s progress to know what needs must be filled for the student,” Goier said.
One of the parents who has been attending every meeting, Harry Steindler, expressed hope at the questions of some of the board members but remained steadfast in his view about resource periods.
“I applaud the effort of the Board to relook,” Steindler said. “I hope it is not the position of the Board to stay away from resource periods. We don’t need for special education students to take Spanish.”
Steindler is one of a number of parents who have been complaining at regular Board meetings the resource periods were eliminated to insert teaching of Spanish as part of the curriculum for all children.
When some in the crowd wanted to know who approved inserting modern language into the middle school curriculum leading to the elimination of resource periods, Board President Ellen London said the Board ratified the move.
One parent, Stephanie Degodny, wants the IEP rather than an administrative dictate to determine if special education students will take Spanish. “It doesn’t work for every kid to take a foreign language,” she said.
Muller wanted to know if children would receive services they needed outside of regular classes. “Will you pull the kids out of class?” she asked.
“We will start with their central needs,” Goier said. She reiterated each student would be given the services prescribed in their IEP and it could include resource periods. Rather than have a Spanish class replaced it could be music, according to Owsiak.
Worth wanted to know how soon students could start receiving the services a number of parents have been clamoring about. “How soon will this come about?” he asked. He was assured by Goier and Owsiak it would be as soon as possible though much of it will be in the next school year.