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Decatur School Board will discuss findings of special education study

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Decatur School Board will discuss findings of special education study

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A long-awaited special education study will be discussed at the Decatur School Board’s May 8 meeting.

In December 2016, the School Board approved a $93,000 contract with the Georgia State University Research Foundation to conduct a special education program evaluation City Schools of Decatur.

The goal of the study was to “evaluate how well CSD implements the processes and procedures around ensuing compliance, effective instruction, student achievement, and parent engagement in its special education program.”

A final report was anticipated for the fall of 2017, but the report never materialized. When Decaturish asked about the status of the report last month, Nicole Patton Terry, the Executive Director of The Urban Child Study Center who is a professor at GSU, said it would be completed by the end of the school year.

A presentation and summary of the report are attached to the School Board’s meeting agenda.

A few observations from the report:
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– The report describes a central office that is “stretched thin” and has difficulty responding to requests for services. The report noted that some parents go straight to central office with concerns and do not consult with the school first.

“I don’t get a lot of parents coming to me with concerns,” one respondent said. “They go right over both of our heads and go right to central office. A lot of times, if they would have talked to the school, there may be an opportunity for us to help alleviate their concerns.”

– CSD is serving more special education students than ever before. About 500 students are receiving some kind of services. The type of disabilities served has also changed over time.

“In recent years, there have been increases in the number of students served with Autism, Speech Language Impairment (SLI), and Significant Developmental Delay (SDD),” the report says.

– The increase in the number of students being served has created communications challenges for the district.

The report provided some recommendations:

– CSD should improve communication procedures to establish consistent expectations.

– CSD should consider grade level and disability type when deciding where to expend resources.

– CSD should improve how it gathers data about these students, examining trends within the school system.

The School Board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. It will be held at CSD’s central office, located at 125 Electric Avenue, Decatur, GA.

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