Firing Special Education Workers Undermines DCPS

By Barras, Jonetta Rose | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, April 4, 2012 | Go to article overview

Firing Special Education Workers Undermines DCPS


Barras, Jonetta Rose, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


The D.C. Public Schools may have been making significant progress in special education. But its decision to fire more than 50 special education coordinators could put everything in jeopardy.

This will have a negative impact on delivery of services to special needs children, Aona Jefferson, president of the Council of School Officers, told me. The union has scheduled a rally for April 9.

Special education has been controversial since 1997, when parents and advocates filed a federal lawsuit Blackman-Jones asserting the lack of timely assessments and proper placements. Some of those charges have been settled. But DCPS remains under court order.

This jeopardizes that in an unbelievably cavalier way, one DCPS source told me.

The school system had indicated in its draft 2013 budget it intended to eliminate funding for the coordinators, called SECs in the school systems parlance. But Jefferson said she and many principals believed employees would simply transfer to another budget category. Most learned only last week that, in fact, job descriptions had been rewritten, effectively disqualifying many current employees.

DCPS will require that individuals who oversee special education implementation have certification in conducting psycho-education assessments as well as training in providing academic and behavioral interventions, Jason Kamras, chief of the Office of Human Capital, wrote in a March 27 letter to Jefferson, a copy of which was obtained by me.

There are 102 SECs, Kamras wrote. There will be 46 SECs next year. Thus, 56 will be subject to reduction in force.

Its a major decision to make late in the school year. Jefferson said many parents dont know coordinators they have come to depend on may not be at their childrens schools. …

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