Parents blind-sided by changes to special needs program


Parents in Henry County are questioning moves made by the county school board. The plan includes moving students and teachers around the county-- a plan parents say is discriminatory and unfair. Parents say they found out about through social media that students with special needs were being uprooted. Kayla Otis's 5-year-old son Matthew is nonverbal autistic. She says she doesn't understand why administrators would make changes to its special needs program without warning anyone. "We were told it was a good place for special education," says Otis. "Right now, its not looking like it."

Over the last month, parents have gathered to share their frustration. Two parents say they were initially told their pre-school aged children would be moved to a high school. "I don't want my child being potty trained by a high schooler," one parent shared. Parents are also concerned that the changes could cause regression, unraveling the progress their children have made at school. "We're the ones who have to deal with it at home and it turns our lives upside down completely," says Otis.

The school board posted a message on Facebook, explaining that parents were leaked information from an annual staff meeting--information that was "incomplete and potentially not accurate."

"For them to say the teachers misunderstood and put out the misinformation to us, it was angering us because those are our teachers, they're with our kids every day, we trust them," says Otis.

School officials told CBS46 the district was reallocating resources to meet the needs of it's changing population. Currently, Henry County has 5700 special needs students, and insists only about 1-2%, or 114 students, would be integrated into new schools.

Otis wants the district to be more transparent. "Some parents got phone calls stating whether their kid was moving and if so what school they're going to. I have not received a phone call. At all. I haven't received emails."

Instead, the parents say they're left guessing and comparing information with each other.

Meanwhile, school officials say all parents of special needs students can expect to know whether their children will be moved by the end of the school year, May 25th. The school board does plan to meet this Monday.

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Investigative Producer


Recommended for you