Special education has been front and center as an issue in the ongoing contract negotiations between and the teachers’ union.
An overwhelming majority of the 20 parents who said they have children receiving special education services. They expressed concerns about a reduction of programs.
Some of those parents said they moved to Deerfield specifically because of the reputation of the schools attentiveness to special education needs.
“I have a daughter with autism and that is the reason we moved here,” Karen Rappaport said at that meeting. “My daughter is a true success story because of what the teachers do. My children can do things I never dreamed they could do.”
explained at that meeting services were still being met though not in the same ways as before because of what she described as “over identification,” a process by which the federal government felt District 109 had too many children receiving services.
“For a student in Illinois to receive services the student must be on an IEP (individual educational plan),” Goier said. “It was determined we had over identified who could be served. We had to go through a process to look at what we were doing.”
The District then found ways to continue giving services to all students in need and overcome the over identification issue at the same time, according to Goier. “We are committed to giving support to all our students,” she said.
Recognizing the ongoing need in this area, the School Board will hear a special presentation at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at its Committee of the Whole meeting on the ongoing efforts of special education in the district.
“The presentation will include information about how District 109 has implemented Response to Intervention (RtI, the law in Illinois) and how the broad continuum of special education services fits into an overall educational environment,” District spokesperson Cathy Kedjidjian said.
Three parent meetings are also being scheduled at different schools, according to Kedjidjian.
Another concern of parents expressed at the last meeting was the elimination of the resource centers. “We will come to every meeting until you put the resource centers back,” parent Caroline Schwartz said at the time.
Children with special needs spent part of their day in a resource center rather than a foreign language class to work on issues related to their IEP, according to teacher Kristie McCarthy. She felt they were a benefit to the students.
“They (the students) work on their IEP goals to keep up with their courses,” McCarthy said. “Now we work with them in their regular classroom. Without it you can’t do your best (as a teacher).”
Immediately after the meeting, Goier said the District reached out to the parents who expressed concerns. “We heard the parents and called each one of them so we can address it (their concerns),” she added referring to parents who had a concern about a specific child's situation.