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Looking at Special Education: Brecksville-Broadview Heights Schools Contract Negotiations

We compare the proposals from the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Board of Education and Education Association.

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.

BEA/BOSS Employees August 04, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Although we appreciate the Patch and their attempts to explain school issues, we'd like to clarify Section 19 a little further today... The BOE has proposed to, in essence, CUT Section 19 from the current BEA contract titled Least Restrictive Environment. This is 3 pages of language that the BOE would like strike from the contract and consider the entire sentiment "advisory." This section includes items such as: -having staff notified ahead of time if they will have students with IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) included in their general education classrooms, -providing appropriate training for teachers, -making efforts to reduce class sizes when students with special needs are included, -allows for planning time during the school day or beyond the school day with compensation so that general education teachers and special education teachers can collaborate and plan together (with related service providers like speech therapists if needed), -allows for IEP writing release time and MFE (multi-factored evalutation) testing and writing time during school time, -allows for release time to complete the Ohio Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities. Again, the BOE has proposed to replace all of this with this wording- "All provisions shall be advisory only. Accordingly, such provisions shall not be grievable or subject to enforcement through any other legal form." Cont'd...
BEA/BOSS Employees August 04, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Our concerns about these changes are great. It is clear, in the language our Board has used in the past, that they do not understand the work we do for our students with special needs, nor do they understand our student population. In cutting out an entire section of our contract, they are putting their trust in our administrators WHO ARE NOT IN OUR CLASSROOMS DAILY. Although Mr. Prebles stated that he would like us to understand that he needs more flexibility with our jobs, we need to make clear that aside from their parents, there is no one who knows our students better than we do. WE are the implementers of their IEPs and WE know what they need. WE need the TIME and the flexibility to be able to provide that. We have proposed to make several changes to this section, in the hopes of increasing student support, but also in the hopes of having the BOE actually TALK about this section in its entirety. We wanted to have a lengthy conversation with the BOE about this section, helping them to become more informed about the job we do as professionals when working with ALL students, both typically developing students and students with special needs. We wanted them to become more informed on the educational needs of our student population, thus all the proposed changes.
Amy August 05, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Iep are legal documents for students to receive services to meet their educational needs. If the new contract states "advisory only" and parent will not be able to grieve issues when students needs are not being as a parent of a student with learning disability we are in BIG trouble. My child will be the one to suffer. I feel that the board is looking for a loop hole not to meet the students individual educational needs. In addition I am aware that students by law need to be in least restrictive environment but they need the support of the teachers, special education teachers and aides for this to occur.
BEA/BOSS Employees August 05, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Thanks for your comment, Amy. When the contract states that the "provisions shall not be grievable," this is for teachers. This means that teachers cannot "grieve" administration on these issues. Parents and students would still have all of their legal rights in regards to IEPs. Our concern is that the district would become reliant on the law for MINIMUM standards and the teachers would not have rights. Parents would need to hold the district responsible if their rights are violated in regards to their child's IEP and LRE.

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