Parents want students’ special ed services back

Jackson schools trying to replace therapists who left


JACKSON – A change which was made in September in the Jackson School District’s special education program is having ramifications now and parents of special education children have let district administrators know they are not happy with what is taking place.

Some parents have claimed that their children are not receiving services that are supposed to be provided.

Board of Education members and district administrators began responding to those concerns last week by holding a series of meetings with parents in an attempt to bring them up to speed on what is happening in special education.

School board member Sharon Dey said she informed her fellow board members that she had received numerous phone calls from concerned parents and some professionals.

“One cannot make changes (in a program) without understanding its nature and purpose,” Dey told the Tri-Town News. “While I have had a few meetings and more are scheduled with central administration, collaboratively, we are trying to right this wrong.”

“There was a program change that was made which we are not trying anymore and we are going back to the way it was, but we have to wait until we are staffed,” said Allison Erwin, the communications specialist for the school district.

During the past four months – from October through January – five occupational therapists left the district. Use of a trans-disciplinary approach may have been one of the factors initiating the departure of those personnel.As a result, administrators are in the process of hiring qualified replacements.

“We are working aggressively to find replacements for the occupational therapists who left,” Erwin said.

Meanwhile there are special needs students who are without some services at the moment while the district is trying to get the remaining positions filled. Erwin said the new occupational therapists will make up those services when they are hired.

“According to the Individual Educational Plan (IEP) guidelines, if student services are not received, by law

those service have to be made

up,” Dey said. “The students

will not lose services,

although the

parents are concerned

about the time frame

and how long will there

be a gap.”

Dey said the district is trying to bring new special education personnel on board.

In a guest column she wrote for the Tri-Town News, Jackson resident Danielle Sibarium said, “With the current shortage of occupational therapists some children have not received occupational therapy services for five weeks and counting, leaving the Jackson School District out of compliance with IEPs. The worst of it is the breakdown in communication. Parents are just learning that their child has not been receiving therapy.

“Although late to the game, the parents are not taking this lightly. They are calling for accountability from the superintendent of schools and the director of special education.

“Occupational therapy for a special needs child is as critical to them as math or reading is to a mainstream child.Would parents accept a month of school without math?Would the district’s administration ever allow children to miss a month of their core curriculum?” Sibarium wrote.