MISD Special Needs Programs

MISD Special Needs Programs

Kalene O'Brien

Several layers of special education resources are offered by the Midland School District, but where do parents turn if they feel their child needs more options.

"We're required to keep them in general education as much as we can but they still be successful. So we start with general ed, and then general ed with support, and then general ed with more support, then resource, then life skills," said Nancy Isaacs, MISD's Executive Director of Special Services.

Life Skills is the highest level of behavioral management programs. One Life Skills educator that wanted to remain anonymous says students need to be offered a higher level. They told NewsWest 9 quote "They do need it and it's clear that they need it. People get hurt every day because they don't have anywhere else to go and have to stay in public school."

"That placement would be the most restrictive placement you can have. We are required to try every other possible thing first," said Isaacs.

"We're here for the child. If they're progressing on their own and making progress based on the data then we need to focus on that instead of worrying about where else can we put this student and lets see what we can do and how we can best help this student with the resources we do have," said Tonya Sanchez, MISD's Special Education Supervisor.

MISD tries to keep special needs students in a least restrictive environment; striving to do everything they can before turning to day homes as a solution. The several special needs administrators we spoke with said they do not wish for a residential placement to join their area, but the anonymous teacher tells us that can result in having a dangerous classroom.

Quote "Least restrictive environment, part of it is providing a safe environment and when another kid doesn't want to sit next to another (violent) kid, or be near that kid, or even be looked at by that kid, that's not safe for anyone in the room. If they're scared they're not going to learn."

"I think sometimes we automatically think a smaller more restrictive setting would be what's best for a kid because working in that larger environment and working with kids and building those steps, it's difficult. It's hard," said Sanchez.

The Texas Education Agency does guide school districts on what programs can be provided. The TEA website states the agency provides funds to districts for the educational costs for students with disabilities who are referred to a non-public day school.

"Every child has an A.R.D. committee. That stands for admission, review, and dismissal. They meet once a year and can meet more than that and often do," said Isaacs.

The anonymous teacher we spoke to told us quote "I feel like other teachers have expressed this concern more colorfully than possible but no changes are seen."

Both sides we talked to said the biggest struggle currently is staying fully staffed and agree that with more staff a solution could be met.