Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WI: Quiet rooms and special ed unfair to Native American students in Ashland

Story posted Monday at 4:41 p.m.

A state investigation says the use of so-called "quiet rooms" and special education courses in the Ashland School District targeted Native American students. Mike Simonson reports from Superior.~~

The four month Department of Public Instruction investigation says Ashland sent too many Native American students to its special ed program and to seclusion rooms in the Ashland Middle School.

Clara Taitt at the nearby Bad River Band Reservation says this practice has caused her 8 year-old son lots of pain.

"Being taken away from his peers, he doesn't like school, that nobody likes him. The DPI needs to listen to some parents who have had to struggle with their children."

Taitt doesn't think the report goes far enough. She says some teachers should be removed from the school system. Meanwhile, Ashland School Superintendent Peggy Smith says they're trying to figure out why that's happened.

"Part of the theory especially for Black and Native American students is perhaps different cultures approach learning differently than the mainstream typical school does so our responses to children's learning somehow missed the mark."

The Department of Public Instruction has ordered training and follow-up reports for some teachers and staff in the Ashland District. DPI's Anita Castro says this is serious.

"We understand these are children. We want to be sure that the seclusion room is used only when it's necessary, and that the district use positive behavior interventions, that that be the first choice."

Special summer training is schedule and the use of quiet rooms has been stopped at Ashland Middle School.

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