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Patch Poll: Should Special Education Be Part of Labor Dispute

Teachers and administration have different opinions. Patch wants to know if its readers think it should be part of the negotiations.

A tempestuous issue in the ongoing contract negotiations between and the teachers union has been increased placement of students with special needs in regular classrooms. 

Teachers have claimed the reduction of resources devoted to special education has been a detriment to both special needs students and the rest of the student body while administration and board officials feel the current approach benefits all students.

Patch wants to know if our readers think this should be part of the negotiations and we've created another unscientific poll to gauge community opinion. Readers of some of Patch’s previous stories have been posting their ideas on the subject in the comments section.

took issue with School Board President Ellen London’s recent statement that favors special education services without a classification. 

“The statement (by London) that some students ‘may never need to be classified as special needs’ implies delaying services or interventions until someone decides it is time is irresponsible to the students, staff and the community,” Meyer wrote.

also wants to see services continue to be defined through an individual education plan (IEP) when a student must have special services. According to him, his children became successful adults because of the services provided.

"Having two students with special needs who graduated from District 109 years ago my family found the process, controls and most importantly the special level of care, concern and creativity that came from special education teachers involved in the formal process to be invaluable,” Steindler wrote.

Anne was blunt. She does not think District 109 give enough care to special needs children. “District 109 only supports those who are above average, ignores those in the middle and demoralizes those with IEP's,” she wrote.

There were no comments supporting position of the administration and the board.

Mara Meyer December 08, 2011 at 10:21 PM
All the middle managers take their lead from the Superintendent who also takes the lead from the Board. As ultimately, those are the ones we should influence.
Bob Mavet December 09, 2011 at 11:41 PM
It is apparent that District 109 places more emphasis on the gifted program than special...Angela Chamness is a Director, Margaret Wade is a Special Education Program Coordinator http://www.dps109.org/learning/Pages/default.aspx. District 109 has issued a handbook of gifted services http://www.dps109.org/learning/gifted/Documents/Handbook%20of%20Gifted%20Services.pdf. Full Disclosure of district resources (salaries, educational materials, workshops, stipends, etc.) for both programs should be disclosed to public side by side. Certainly this will tell the story.
Katie Bittner January 10, 2012 at 04:54 PM
You are absolutely 100% correct. I am a teacher and also parent of a student at the middle school level of a student with a disability. Ever since he arrived there the student services coordinator (who still to this date has never bothered to have a conversation with my child OR introduce herself) has attempted to slash his minutes of service and totally mainstream him in to regular classes. I refused to succumb to her bullying and disrespect because I know the law and what he is entitled to. I am frightened for parents who do not have the knowledge of special education and what has been taken away from their children. Parents need to bring advocates ( that are available to them at no cost) with them to meetings at the school so that they understand the process and the services that can and SHOULD be provided to their children.
Katie Bittner January 17, 2012 at 03:48 PM
The 109 School Board President stood and told us on January 9 "there have been no cuts to Special Education" yet every parent I have spoke with has experienced a cut in the minutes of service provided to their child (especially at the middle school level) Special ed administrators meet with parents and tell them ALL the progress their child has made and that they should be "included" with the general education population. Inclusion IS NOT THE BEST OPTION for all children. All children should be given the services THAT THEY NEED, NOT WHAT THE SCHOOL HAS IN PLACE. Parents of students with disabilities do not need to succumb to what I would call "bullying" into what services, teachers, programs are in place. This is so AGAINST THE PURPOSE OF AN INDIVIDUAL EDUCATION PROGRAM. Parents of children with disabilities need to exercise their due process rights and FIGHT for what the federal law manadates. IT IS TIME TO SPEAK OUT.
Harry Steindler January 18, 2012 at 06:22 AM
After talking with numerous teachers and parents and hearing the educators team tonight, it is apparent that the assurance of educators' involvement in the establishment of special needs policies and procedures absolutely must be guaranteed as part of the contract currently being negotiated. Perhaps in time, if we have an administration open to collaboration with teachers and other educators, this wont be necessary. Now, it is absolutely needed.

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