Thursday, October 29, 2009

IA: Davenport School Board OKs special education plan

Kurt Allemeier | Posted: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 12:00 am

The Davenport School Board approved a state-required special education delivery plan Monday to the disappointment of one member who said it was a missed opportunity.

The board approved the plan 6-1, with Timothy Tupper voting against it.

"We had a real opportunity with this document to really look at our process and procedures, and we didn't do that," Tupper said during discussion of the plan. "I hoped we would look at our delivery of services to see how we (could) do it better."

The plan moves the district away from teaching special needs students in seclusion. Instead, general education teachers will work with special education students in a regular classroom setting. The special education service delivery plan, recently required by the Iowa Department of Education, defines how schools meet the educational needs of students.

About 30 teachers were involved in the delivery plan and public input was sought, Betty Long, director of exceptional education and federal programming, told the board. Most public input was received via e-mail.

A comprehensive audit of special education and support services in the district is currently being done, with a report from an outside agency expected in January, Long said.

The special education proposal helps position the district to meet state requirements that 75 percent of special education students spend at least 80 percent of the school day in a general education classroom by the end of 2010-11.

The delivery plan was approved two days before a state-extended deadline set after the district failed to approve a plan by Sept. 15.

The board was comfortable with the plan, although some concerns were expressed that putting additional students in general education classrooms could strain teachers and increase class sizes.

In addition to integrating students into regular classrooms, Davenport's plan also defines the number of students assigned to each special education teacher, based on several criteria.

Areas considered include the amount of support students need, their individualized goals and whether a student needs a teacher's aide, specially designed instruction or assistive technology, as well as the amount of collaboration and planning needed between general and special education teachers.

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