Special-education teachers in the Frankfort Independent Schools are ready for big changes.
At an organizational meeting Tuesday, those teachers led a discussion with district officials and parents about improving education for students with special needs at Frankfort High School and Second Street School.
Cindy Greer, a special-education teacher at both schools and the parent of a special-needs student, said the groups goal is to address key issues for those students, teachers and parents and strengthen the districts program.
"We know as parents what its like, we know as teachers what its like, weve seen both sides of the table," Greer said.
One of the issues addressed at the organizational meeting formally a Special Student Services Focus Group was professional development or PD. Greer said development shouldnt be limited to teachers and that sessions focusing on how parents can help their special-needs students are one possible avenue the group could explore.
Examples of PD sessions include collaboration between special-needs teachers, regular-education teachers and parents as well as sessions on how to handle a child with dyslexia or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
District-wide summer sessions on dyslexia and ADD are already in the works according to Marcy Pierce, director of special education and associate superintendent for the Frankfort schools.
The half-dozen parents who attended the meeting were emotional and vocal when it came to their concerns.
One parent requested using the focus group meetings as support to seek advice from other parents. Others asked for better communication between parents and teachers regarding special-needs children and greater accountability to regular education teachers working with special-needs students.
In order to improve accountability, group leaders suggested making sure all new regular-education teachers participate in training in special education.
School board member Jina Greathouse said she sees room for improvement for regular teachers in dealing with special-needs students.
"I think as a district weve dropped the ball a bit as far as incorporating regular faculty," she said.
Ashley Dennington, a special-education teacher at FHS as well as special-needs parent, stressed the importance of parental involvement in the group to make changes for the better.
"I encourage all of you to continue to be proactive. Its the best thing you can do for your children," she said.
Greathouse said funding is also an issue to consider when improving the districts special-education program.
"There is one thing right now that makes us unique and that is our financial situation," she told the group. "Im terribly concerned were doing our special-ed program a disservice."
Greer suggested exploring fundraising opportunities such as a chili cook-off to raise money for the districts special-education department.
FHS co-principal and director of Wilkinson Street School Rita Rector, recommended the group seek other funding options, such as help from the family resource/youth service center.
"These children have needs and they need to be a high priority," Rector said.
The group will meet again next Tuesday from 5 to 6 p.m. to discuss Individual Education Plans (IEPs) at Second Street School.