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Kim Williams

Good evening. Im Rep. Kim Williams of the 19th District. I


formerly served on the Red Clay School Board. Im joined by
Mike Matthews, president of the Red Clay Education
Association, and Ashley Sabo, Red Clay parent and co-chair of
the Districts Inclusion Committee. All three of us served on one
of the inclusion committees during last years planning year after
very public concerns with the Districts initial plans were aired
two years ago.
We were interested to hear Board Member Mike Piccios
comments last month regarding the number of ELL students and
teachers at Forest Oak Elementary. As a former parent at Forest
Oak, this school has always held a special place in my heart and
I figured this would be a good opportunity for me to visit my
friends there and hear first-hand whats going on.
Two weeks ago, Mike Matthews, Mike Piccio, Ashley and I
took a tour of Forest Oak. We were bowled over by the
dedication of the staff and administration to meet the needs of
their students. We went in with the goal to hear about the needs

of the ELL program at Forest Oak, but we came out with a better
picture of where Red Clay is with implementing inclusion in our
schools. Based on what Ashley and Mike Matthews have shared
with me, whats happening at Forest Oak is trending across the
District.
As a State Representative and former School Board
member, Im concerned about the allocation of resources for
students with severe needs. When I sat on the inclusion
committee, I was told that resources would follow the students.
My concern was always that the services students were
receiving would not be able to be effectively duplicated in all of
the feeder schools. With my recent school visits, its become
clear that additional resources are needed in all of our schools to
ensure inclusion is implemented effectively.
Im looking forward to visiting more schools in the coming
weeks and months and Im very appreciative Dr. Daugherty has
said Im welcome at anytime.

Mike Matthews
Good evening, Board and Dr. Daugherty. Its my job to
represent the teachers of the District and in my role this year, Ive
been afforded the opportunity to visit all of our District schools
and take the pulse of whats impacting our classroom teachers,
specialists, and support staff. Id like to first thank the staffs and
administrators of all Red Clay schools for opening their doors to
me this year.
By a wide margin, Im hearing most from my members
about special education in general and inclusion in particular.
First, some history. If youll recall, RCEA voted unanimously two
years ago on a resolution that fully supports the philosophy of all
students being afforded the opportunity to learn in more inclusive
environments ONLY IF all necessary supports and resources
follow those students. RCEA acknowledged early on and shared
openly with the District and Board our serious concerns with
taking concentrated services at two schools -- Central and
Richardson Park Learning Center -- and spreading them out at
nearly 30 campuses. What weve seen in these first few months

of inclusion are extremely frustrated teachers and support staff


who are being spread too thin and are in desperate need of
relief.
In recent years, RCEA has brought to the District our
concerns related to overworked and under-resourced special
education teachers, general education teachers, and dualcertified special AND general education teachers whose
caseloads are out of control. These teachers, specialists, and
support staff are given limited time to meet the compliance
needs of being a case manager on top of the day-to-day
instructional needs of their students.
During the inclusion committee process over a year ago, all
stakeholders were promised that supports and resources would
be following all students to all schools. If this is the case, then
why are members reporting to me that students who came from
the Learning Center and who need a more restrictive
environment are being denied that opportunity because, as some
principals have reported, we dont have the resources for a C
setting in this school. Why are IEPs being revised to move C

and D setting students to A and B.


Why do we have schools with hundreds of ELL students
and only one or two dedicated ELL teachers? Why are we
revising IEPs to remove one-on-one paraprofessional supports
and instead opting for shared support paraprofessionals who
often split their time between homerooms and students? Why do
we require the signature of a special education teacher AND a
general education teacher on an IEP but then leave the
responsibilities of educating that child to just one dual-certified
teacher?
I wish I could say we were wrong. I wish I could say my
Representative Council, which has aired these concerns
repeatedly over the last two years, was wrong. But we werent.
While RCEA can acknowledge we are still very early on in this
inclusion transition and perhaps some of our criticisms are
unwarranted, is the District or Board at all prepared to ramp up
resources and supports for this vulnerable population of
students? The same resources that were heavily concentrated in
two schools to provide INTENSIVE supports to students with

serious needs and have now been diluted with questionable


effectiveness in 30 schools?
Our membership remains unconvinced that our
District is doing whats best for kids.

Ashley Sabo
Good evening.
J.D. Salinger said, You cant stop a teacher when they want to
do something. They just do it.
In an effort to learn more about inclusion in our district not only
as an involved Red Clay parent, but also as the co-chair of the
inclusion oversight committee, I have, on my own time, had the
opportunity to meet with numerous teachers and staff at different
schools and I am concerned.
I am concerned that despite teachers wanting to do something
great, they arent able. I am concerned that the excellent teachers we
have are burning out, losing the passion for their profession and
questioning if they want to keep going.
Its not a lack of love for teaching and it certainly isnt a lack of
love for their students that are causing these feelings. The teachers I
have met with are passionate and committed and caring and give of
themselves beyond what is expected working on their own unpaid
time to ensure our kids needs are being met.
Teachers who are dual-certified are wondering why they got the
extra certification because they have such an incredible additional

workload and they dont have the time to thoroughly prepare IEPs.
The government, both federal and state, pass laws and policies
for schools telling districts to make it happen. all students will
graduate high school college and career ready, all 3 rd graders should
be reading at or above grade level, closing the achievement gap. All
these goals sound great who doesnt want kids to go to college or
graduate ready to start a career. Who doesnt agree that reading
goals are important? Who doesnt want English Language learners
and students with disabilities to succeed? No one is against these
goals at a surface level.
But when the government tells the districts and the districts tell
the school administration and the administration tells the teachers to
make it happen they forget something crucial the resources!
No matter how great a plan is without the necessary resources it will
fail. You cant build a home without tools and drywall and you cant
meet these lofty strategic goals without resources either.
We owe it to our teachers who go above and beyond and we
owe it to our students to make sure they have the necessary
resources!
We need more special education teachers so we can actually

meet the needs of students. We need more ELL teachers. We need


more, well trained paraprofessionals. We need more training on
specific areas such as proper restraint and IEP goal writing. There
may not have been the need for class size waivers this year, but we
still need smaller classes. We need more resource rooms. We need
an actual continuum of services in every school. We need to make it
easier for teachers to request resources and assistive technology
without writing grants to the district. We need more speech therapists
and instructional education specialists
Our kids deserve to have less rigor and more support. Our kids
deserve less standardized testing and assessments and more
opportunities to shine as the individuals they are, learning social and
life skills that are crucial to success in the world. Our kids coming
from poverty, broken homes, and violent prone areas need more
emotional support and behavior interventions.
Our kids need and deserve more! And so do our teachers!