Parents to protest Metro schools' special-ed job cuts

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 7:19pm

Parents of Metro students with disabilities have planned a protest Friday to express “extreme concern and outage” over the district’s decision to cut more than 100 special-education paraprofessionals.

“MNPS cannot continue to serve the needs of all students with disabilities and cut 25 percent of their support staff,” Erin Richardson, a parent of a special-needs student, said in a statement Wednesday announcing the event. “It’s not feasible.”

Parents, families and other concerned citizens have organized the protest for Friday, June 1, at 11:45 a.m. at the Tennessee Disability MegaConference, held at the Nashville Airport Marriott.

Faced with depleted federal stimulus funds, Metro school officials announced last week that the district would be cutting more than 100 special-needs paraprofessionals, or trained aides. Given the limited lifespan of stimulus dollars, school administrators say they knew this day was coming.

The district currently employs 632 paraprofessionals who work with students with disabilities. Though reductions in positions would reduce that figure by at least 100, Metro school administrators insist special-needs services will remain unchanged.

“We have been very careful to review all students’ needs and we will continue to meet those needs,” Debbie McAdams, the district’s executive director for Exceptional Education, has previously said.

But parents like Richardson are skeptical about whether that could possibly be the case.

“Without adequate staffing, our students will be spending more time in segregated, self-contained classroom settings, which too often fail to prepare them for the real world outside of the special education classroom,” Richardson said.

School officials say the district will continue to adhere to inclusive practices, which were recently ushered in as part of Director of Schools Jesse Register’s reform efforts.

Other parents, however, appear perplexed about the timing of the cuts. Mayor Karl Dean has proposed Davidson County’s first property tax hike in seven years, funds he has said would assure adequate funding for Metro schools.

“It is difficult for me to maintain an optimistic view of the direction of our public schools when decisions to eliminate critical positions are made in secret and later announced,” parent Daynise Couch said in the release. “With the many discussions about the mayor’s recent property tax increase and how that could fully fund our schools, it is difficult to understand why these cuts are even necessary.”

Dean’s property tax hike –– which heads before the Metro Council next week on its second of three votes –– would fund Metro schools slightly under the $723 million level requested by the school board.

Federal funds, however, are set aside from the school district’s operating budget. And apparently Dean’s tax increase would not raise revenue to a level high enough to offset the depletion of this particular pool of federal stimulus funds.

13 Comments on this post:

By: spooky24 on 5/31/12 at 5:24

The funds to pay for these 'paraprofessionals' came from a massive loan from the Chinese government orchestrated by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on behalf of the Obama administration for a 'stimulus' that now even the President admits 'didn't work very well' At 22% interest this loan of 898 billion dollars forces the American tax payers to take out a second loan-from the same Chinese lenders-just to pay the daily interest of 123 million on the original loan-that is every single day.
This is just another example of the politically correct notion that all social ills can be addressed by borrowing money-and not worrying about ever paying it back because that will fall to someone else.
It was clear from the very beginning that these hiring were temporary.

sp

By: itsmyfirstday on 5/31/12 at 6:03

Couldn't have said it better Spooky!

fd

By: Methodgen on 5/31/12 at 8:58

I can tell you that I was hired BEFORE the stimulus money was injected into the budget. I LOVED my job and the students that I worked with! I was a Paraprofessional until Monday when I received word that my position was phased out. I know what it takes to run the classroom that I was in and let me tell you this.....with one paraprofessional in the room....learning is the last thing that will happen. It will be about containing behaviors mostly.

There are some Exceptional Education teachers that are not qualified or prepared to deal with having students int he classroom without the extra help. I would even to go as far as to say that there are Paraprofessionals that have a better handle on the classroom that the teacher that has gone to school/in school that is paid to teach that class.

It is easy to sit in an office and pick and choose who should go or stay because ultimately it is not a struggle that you have to deal with. However it is not fair to those who are on the front line of education that are in the trenches DAILY dealing with the uneducated decisions that people tend to make that affect other people. I am saddened greatly by what this Government (Nashville) and the people who live her consider to be important.

Have mistakes been made dealing with money....emphatically with a resounding YES! At this point we need to move on to a solution. Will raising the property tax help, maybe. Still there are cuts that can be made else where I am sure of if people so deem to look for them. To those who do not have an Exceptional Education child...think about this. There will be Exceptional Education students in your child's classroom that will be UNSUPPORTED by those Paraprofessionals that once were with them for inclusion. How much do you think your child is going to learn? How burned out will the General Education teacher become having to deal with behaviors that were once curtailed by another set of hands specifically there to help support that student/classroom?

So when you look at if it is feasible to let things continue the way they are or step up to the plate and change some things....think on those questions. This is not to scare anyone...but it is a reality for some schools and classrooms that will face this very dilemma come August when school starts.

By: Rasputin72 on 5/31/12 at 11:23

I love to see the entitlement and "free stuff" people protest. Just a victory every now and that is all the productive taxpayers in the United States can expect,

By: Daisycutter47 on 5/31/12 at 12:45

The "Free Stuff" crowd just can't stand it. This is a clear extension of another Obama failure placed right in the lap of his boys in Nashville, Jesse Register and Karl Dean. They KNEW that this money would run out in time. Register hired people using the funds from this stupid ARRA aquired from the Chinese treasury. It was a scam in the first place, and continues to be so.

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By: pswindle on 6/1/12 at 10:26

Don't forget, the Legislative Branch took all rights away from students, parents and teachers. We are at the mercy of Dr. Register. He is no friend.

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