The four candidates for the Columbia School Board talked about a variety of topics in public forums that took place during this campaign season. Coverage of these forums can be found online at columbiamissourian.com.
We also asked them a series of questions and asked them to increase their answers by about 250 words. Here’s how they responded (in the ballot box) to the following question:
That: On February 14, the Columbia School Board approved a proposal from New Solutions K12 to conduct a review of district services for students with special needs, whether or not they have an Individual Education Program (IEP). In what areas can the district improve services to better support students with special needs and their families?
Suzette Waters: Many families move to Colombia because of the abundance of services … for children with special needs of all kinds. CPS employs outstanding teachers, pharaohs, caregivers and nurses to serve our students.
Families of children with special needs know best what improvements can be made to serve their students. Listening to their feedback should be a central focus of this review. The results of the review should guide changes made to the district plan.
Blake Willoughby: When I was first elected to the board in April 2019, I met with the principal and our assistant principal for special education. We talked about their time in roles, what they saw and what they expect to implement as changes. They have worked collaboratively with information from our community members to update the site so that it is more user-friendly for families.
The council’s best way to address special education department improvements is to review audit results, listen to recommendations and collaborate with staff on what can best be done to implement performance-enhancing recommendations. Experience in our special education services.
If a board member comes up with a specific item to fix without collaborating with staff, he or she is fulfilling his or her role in a way that does not develop trust with the professionals hired by the county to run our mission. This approach also usually leads to unintended consequences within the system that harms our children more than helps them in the long run.
Andrea Lissenby: As a parent of a fourth grader with significant special needs and a long IEP, I saw this process firsthand. Our personal experiences match the experiences of many other families in similar situations. What goes well is the people; The place where we need improvement is in the processes.
Ten percent of CPS students are in IEP, and it is estimated that an additional 2-4% should be. I would like to see the CPS honor requests for IEP assessments in a timely manner. Special education principals should spend time in classrooms serving children in IEP and seek feedback from teachers when making certain decisions.
The bride is an aspiration among parents for both special education and excellent families. It flourishes when it is a culture, not a mandate. Many of our schools are exemplary in this area, led by outstanding principals! Inclusion goes beyond the integration of special education students in certain classes of general education. This includes the students in activities including school, cafeteria, playground, morning sessions, etc. I believe that when academy students spend time with people with disabilities at a young age, they develop the bridal mentality that stays with them for life!
Burke man: I would say from my personal experience, the staff does not need to improve services when it comes to the special education department. The special education staff is simply amazing and goes out of their way to ensure that every student in his or her program will feel a sense of belonging.
Most of the frustrations are the administrative processes that govern the IEP / 504 process. CPS has created an administrative nightmare when it comes to filing an application or request for IEP / 504 services from the district. Knowing the CPS has federal and state laws that need to be obeyed, the county can make the process more user-friendly.
I would like to see CPS implementing lawyers, who are not district employees, will be assigned to students seeking services that will help them in the process. The role of the lawyer will be to help the family and student navigate the process, ensure that our primary interest (the student) is the primary key in the decision-making process and ensure that the right questions are asked and the services are approved within the law. . When there are questions about rejected services, the parent / student has a means to get assistance in appealing the decision.
Elizabeth Brexi is a city editor at Columbia Missourian. She oversees education coverage.