Last month, .
One of the common topics that both teachers and community members have brought up on the site and in school board meetings is the proposed changes to the special education section of the contract, section 19. Here's a look at the proposals:
What is it?
There is a specific section—Section 19—in both the current contract and the two proposals that defines “least restrictive environment.” Essentially, that means that a student with special needs will have an individualized plan to fit their needs. They may spend part or all of their day in a special education classroom, or they may attend traditional classes with the help of an aide or there may be another solution that is best for them. These plans are flexible.
This section also outlines the need for common planning time for special education and regular education teachers and gives guidelines for release time for specialists and teachers to write and review each student’s plan.
What did the last contract say?
There’s a lot involved in this section. Some of the specifics include a requirement for additional planning time or compensation for planning time for staff and a required two hours of release time for intervention specialists and developmental preschool teachers to write each new Individualized Education Program—known as an IEP—and for the annual review IEP. Teachers involved in multi-factored evaluations may also be released for a half day every month for those evaluations.
What does the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Board of Education’s proposal say?
The board’s proposal is exactly the same, except for one line: “All provisions of Section 19 – Least Restrictive Environment above shall be advisory only. Accordingly, such provisions shall not be grievable or subject to enforcement through any other legal forum.”
Board President David Tryon didn’t want to comment on the specifics of the proposals, because negotiations with the . “Given that these topics are very sensitive and likely will be addressed in these negotiations, we would prefer to avoid public comment at this time in order to give these negotiations the best chance possible to resolve the situation,” he said in an email.
During the , Tryon told a concerned parent that families of children with special needs would have the same rights as they do now.
The Brecksville-Broadview Heights Education Association's bargaining team said in an email that it thinks the change would allow the board to disregard all of Section 19.
What does the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Education Association’s proposal say?
The association’s proposal includes quite a few suggested changes to this section, including a clarification that those individualized plans need to be adjusted for each student and each teacher, a requirement that teacher training must happen before a student enters a classroom, and a mandatory four hours of release time for teachers to work on each IEP instead of two hours. The section with the most proposed changes is related to class size and includes percentages for how many students with special needs a teacher should be assigned. The association also asked for more frequent meetings of a district forum designed to resolve concerns related to special education instruction and asked for those meetings to take place during the school day, rather than outside of it. These are just a few of the many proposed changes.
The association bargaining team said in an email that the proposals were designed to help strengthen special education services and provide necessary time to teachers.
The former contract and both contract proposals can be found on the district’s Negotiation News website.