Tuesday, November 15, 2022

You can't do that

 You Can’t do That!


A majority of school districts across the country opened up this fall short staffed.  All kinds of teachers were missing from school rolls.  One of the largest shortfalls happened among special ed teachers.   School districts have been very creative about filling the void.   Unfortunately for the kids and the school district, many of those classrooms are being staffed by unqualified teachers.  Now the US Office of Education has stepped in and directly told school systems that the law requires that special education and related services staff must be “appropriately and adequately prepared and trained.”   “Public school special education teachers may not have special education certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis; and must at least hold a bachelor’s degree” according to a letter sent by the Director of the Education Department’s Office of Special Education Programs.

But that is exactly what is happening in Maryland public schools.  First of all, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has extended the time limit for a special education teacher (and other teachers) to attain their full professional license by two years.  In many districts in Maryland, substitute teachers are only required to have a high school diploma.  Yet many of these individuals are now serving as long-term subs in special education classrooms.  

And that’s not all.   There is a shortage of speech therapists as well as teachers.  Public school systems are addressing the shortage in unique ways.  One district just flat out says, we don’t have the therapists so your child isn’t getting therapy.  At least that is honest and transparent.  BUT, they are not revising the IEP with or without the parents’ permission.  In fact, in some instances the parents don’t even know that speech is not being delivered.

Some of the solutions are VERY creative.   One child with special needs was supposed to have speech therapy per the IEP.  But no one was available and the union wouldn’t allow the speech therapists that were available to carry a heavier load.  The IEP also required that the child be in small classes.   So, the child was scheduled for a Chinese language class.  Truly, I am not making this up.  The parents complained- hard to believe I know- and soon the child was placed in an approved non-public school that had the services.  

There are lots of things school system “can’t do” and they do those things every day.  We need watch dogs to say “you can’t do that” and THEN do something about it.   Letters alone just fill up wastebaskets.

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