Letter: Budget cuts hurting special education services
I recently attended the second of two meetings regarding my son’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) at Lee-Jackson School. My son has special needs and has been having a difficult time since September 2013. I could not understand why, since he had been doing fairly well the previous year.
At a meeting held after three months of problems, I learned that he had not been receiving the support services agreed upon and mandated by his IEP from September until November 2013. This lack of support resulted in behavioral issues and subsequently, in his removal from the general education classroom and return to the self-contained classroom due to the removal of his previous support system.
Mathews County Schools have lost a number of teachers and paraprofessionals due to the decreased funding, beginning in Washington and trickling down through Richmond. However, the Special Education support staff has been hit quite hard.
This decrease in staffing is unfortunate and undesirable. However, it does not mean that the services mandated by an IEP can be ignored. Each identified special education student has services mandated by his or her IEP, and there are consequences for both student (academically and behaviorally) and school district (legal remedies) if these services are not supplied.
I have been working with the school and will continue to do so. However, I urge the parents and/or caretakers of other special needs students to insure that their children are receiving the agreed-upon services and to advocate vigorously if they are not.
This is not a localized problem—schools throughout Virginia have been affected by cuts to education. These repeated cuts are negatively impacting the education of Virginia students in general, and—in Mathews County, at least—special education students as well.
Gwen A. D’Amico
Cobbs Creek, Va.