Worthington school district faces review | The Columbus Dispatch

More complaints from parents have prompted the state to again scrutinize the Worthington school district's treatment of disabled students. Full Story
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timmy

Youngstown, OH

#1 Apr 5, 2010
Review all 88 counties and you'll find this everywhere ! I In your article you stated(State order to make changes and train teachers). Didn't they graduate from college? I know they seminars to discuss techniques. They get paid more for a master's degree . So what did they miss in College or workshops ? What a ponzi education is!!!Start earing your money.
Go Ohio

Columbus, OH

#2 Apr 5, 2010
Ok, I will be the one who touches off the fire-storm.

It may be the way the comment was quoted in the paper, but whose roll is it to get the 19-year-old off school grounds and exposed to real life situations? The school is providing a service and that is great but I certainly hope that it was believed that the school district's job was to do that--or maybe that is really the problem if it was.

As background, I have a special needs daughter with much less limiting conditions that this young man. We have an IEP with the school but have individually sought out every available program and assistance we can find for her. I nevered viewed that as the school's job.
Some guy

Columbus, OH

#3 Apr 5, 2010
I'm a fan of education for everyone, and whenever possible having students with special needs mainstreamed alongside other students. My wife is a teacher and has several students with IEPs in her classroom.

But I'm not sure how reasonable it is for high schools to be responsible for such basic personal tasks that are far outside the scope of academics, such as learning how to cross the street safely - and this has been part of his curriculum for years?
Old Timer

AOL

#4 Apr 5, 2010
Sometimes a bit of history helps here. In 1976, IDEA was created to ensure an adequate public education in a least restrictive environment for all students with disabling conditions. This federal mandate was to be fully funded over time so as to not overwhelm the school budget. Today, these students are funded at a rate of 80% of "state share", theoretically a 40% funding ratio. However, since schools like Worthington are "wealthy", the local contribution is much more than a school of average wealth, so the actual cost is borne by the school district.

Also, those students with severe disabling conditions used to be funded by local tax dollars through MRDD county-wide taxes, with no cost liability to the school district. Then in the early 1990's, the cost liability was passed on, by legislative mandate, to local schools for all disabled children from ages 3-22. Now schools were obligated not just to pay for, but to design progams for children where the administrators had zero experience in working with the severely disabled.

A parent of these children is only wanting everything possible for their child, and that is commendable. However, many times the schools can not react quickly enough, or have the resources (financial and personnel) to supply the response needed. Then there is the litigation that follows, with additional cost to the school.

Schools provide the best services possible with the resources they have, but the people needing the services tend not to be patient. If the original intent of the federal law passed in 1976 were funded as proposed, all these needs would be met, but some of these children have annual costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What this all boils down to is what value do we place on our younger generation? It is interesting how the folks who scream that we are placing huge debt on the next generation are the same people who won't vote a cent to educating that same generation.

Is this irony, a paradox, or mean-spiritedness?
As for the review, we had one and received glowing recommendations.
14 percent

Columbus, OH

#5 Apr 5, 2010
@ 1300 out of 9500 students are "disabled"? Doesn't that seem high that 1 out of 7 need individualized plans?
Wisdom

Westerville, OH

#6 Apr 5, 2010
An IEP should be goals developed by the teachers, administration and parents. Schools receive the majority of their funding from students with special needs, but I am observing that many are being educationally neglected. Money that's supposed to be allocated to students with disabilities is being wasted and used for general operating costs.

If I were the lawyers or State of Ohio, I would ask what type of materials and supplemental teaching materials do districts purchase for their special education programs. Worthington is not the only school district which should be reviewed.
Realistic View

United States

#7 Apr 5, 2010
The teachers and admnistrators are great, but the problem we ran into was lack of training and knowledge of IEP student education. This can be easily corrected but must start at the top and a change of attitudes.

We fought tooth and nail in the elementary just to get basic accomodations. The middle school was a bit better, but we again has to educate the educators. My wife and I took on MUCH of the burden, as we should as parents, but it cost me my job and health. Believe me, it isn't easy and there is little support.

Most parents of "normal" kids are blissfully ignorant.

We found a district that offered more intervention classes, supervised study halls, well-trained specialists, and most important, a district wide effort to help all the students. At a lower cost per pupil.

I would love to see Worthington do the same as there are great people there. But it is too late for us.
Jean Lynn

Columbus, OH

#8 Apr 5, 2010
Of Worthington's 9500 students, 1300 are classified as having disabilities. That works out to 7.3% of the student population. How does this compare with ratios in other districts?

Worthington School District's student population is only about 5.4% of that in Columbus, yet more Worthington's parents complain about treatment of students with disabilities than in the entire Columbus district. Maybe that's in part due to Worthington's long-standing distinction as a community that provides excellent education for its children. Parents have high expectations and are right to take issue with short-comings. Many families choose to live here specifically because of the schools' reputation.

Several decades ago, Worthington Schools' operating-levy issues always passed by a healthy margin, but in recent years many have been defeated. Voters believed that the schools' staffing included too great a percentage of administrative personnel and that the administration was both indolent and isolated from actual teaching. Most of those issues have since been addressed, but now funding might actually lag behind needs.
Interesting

Columbus, OH

#9 Apr 5, 2010
Very interesting that this article comes out on the first day of Spring Break for Worthington. Connections within ODE are a bonus to some parents!
The Truth

Westerville, OH

#10 Apr 5, 2010
14 percent wrote:
@ 1300 out of 9500 students are "disabled"? Doesn't that seem high that 1 out of 7 need individualized plans?
In my opinion, all students should have an individualized education plan. Teachers take time to discover the child's learning style as well as reading, writing, and math levels.
In the Know

Columbus, OH

#11 Apr 5, 2010
Some guy wrote:
I'm a fan of education for everyone, and whenever possible having students with special needs mainstreamed alongside other students. My wife is a teacher and has several students with IEPs in her classroom.
But I'm not sure how reasonable it is for high schools to be responsible for such basic personal tasks that are far outside the scope of academics, such as learning how to cross the street safely - and this has been part of his curriculum for years?
For some children, their disabilities are so great that what you consider academics, I am guessing math, reading, science, history, are not realistic for them. The goal of schools is to educate our children, for some children with disabilities this relates to everyday skills that you and I take for granted and we take for granted with our "typical" kids. I do agree with your last statement if it hasn't been followed for years, then why wait to complain. With an IEP, you get quarterly updates, and a yearly review, if you feel your child isn't getting the right services, complain daily! Make your voice heard.
Jennings the fistR

United States

#13 Apr 5, 2010
Worthington and Columbus Public schools are probably letting these types of stories 'surface' so that the aattention is diverted away from the filth like Obama's safe school tsar Kevin Jennings who is famous for his successes in obtaining public funding for kits encouraging children to explore disgusting and deviant same-sex behaviors. Ask this: If Obama is such a willing enabler of such a deviant and getting him so close to school children what else does he have in mind?
Math is important

United States

#14 Apr 5, 2010
1300 in a total population of 9500 is 13.68% Maybe "normal" adults need IEP's in math
Hooked on Fonics

Columbus, OH

#15 Apr 5, 2010
1300 out of 9500 actually works out to nearly 14% as one poster already pointed out. That is ridiculous and a disservice to the kids who do actully need the extra help and attention.
Not So Bad

Rolling Meadows, IL

#16 Apr 5, 2010
I think it is safe to say that the laws regarding special education have been ever-changing since the 1970's. With the creation of IDEA and more recently, the No Child Left Behind laws, school districts are constantly having to rearrange funding, teachers, training, and programs. Even just this year, completely new IEP and ETR formats were created to streamline the overall special education process. The special education policies in our country and state are continuously improving, but small steps are necessary to make the outcomes the very best. Worthington is not the only school district that has been affected by these many changes, though they seem to be the only district highlighted.

What bothers me in particular about this article is that it makes it seem as though the special education teachers do not care enough. Special education teachers have to have a great deal of care in their hearts before they even consider studying to become a special education teacher. Many special education teachers decide to enter this area of study because of how they have been personally affected by someone with a disability.

In addition to teaching the special needs children as many critical skills as possible, these special education teachers are also required to submit a great deal of paperwork. Yes, paperwork that shows growth and development is important, and maybe I have an old style of thinking, but I think it can be easy to get caught up in the paperwork, and in turn, lose sight of what the real goal is: teaching these special needs children the skills they need to apply themselves in life.

I challenge other school districts to go through the same scrutiny that Worthington is undergoing. I assure you, similar, if not more severe results will be found. Worthington has an excellent reputation, and if only 1.7% of all 1,300 disabled students' parents have filed complaints, then that's something to be proud of. It sounds as though this special-education advocate is generalizing Worthington's special education services as poor based on the 1.7% who have filed complaints. Someone needs to represent the other 98.3% of satisfied parents. Worthington just needs to stay strong during these bumps in the road, make improvements where they can, and continue providing an excellent education to all students.
Krusty

United States

#17 Apr 5, 2010
"Jennings the fistR" wrote:

Worthington and Columbus Public schools are probably letting these types of stories 'surface' so that the aattention is diverted away from the filth like Obama's safe school tsar Kevin Jennings who is famous for his successes in obtaining public funding for kits encouraging children to explore disgusting and deviant same-sex behaviors. Ask this: If Obama is such a willing enabler of such a deviant and getting him so close to school children what else does he have in mind?

Say it aint so. BTW, do our taxes go up for this?
resident

Columbus, OH

#18 Apr 5, 2010
they treat residents like disabled by keeping asking for levies.
Mom

Columbus, OH

#19 Apr 5, 2010
Hooked on Fonics wrote:
1300 out of 9500 actually works out to nearly 14% as one poster already pointed out. That is ridiculous and a disservice to the kids who do actully need the extra help and attention.
I don't understand what your point is. Please explain, who are the "kids who do actually need the extra help and attention". Are you saying too many kids have IEP,s or ignore them and help the "typical" kids?
Reader

Columbus, OH

#20 Apr 5, 2010
Jean Lynn wrote:
Of Worthington's 9500 students, 1300 are classified as having disabilities. That works out to 7.3% of the student population. How does this compare with ratios in other districts?
Worthington School District's student population is only about 5.4% of that in Columbus, yet more Worthington's parents complain about treatment of students with disabilities than in the entire Columbus district. Maybe that's in part due to Worthington's long-standing distinction as a community that provides excellent education for its children. Parents have high expectations and are right to take issue with short-comings. Many families choose to live here specifically because of the schools' reputation.
Several decades ago, Worthington Schools' operating-levy issues always passed by a healthy margin, but in recent years many have been defeated. Voters believed that the schools' staffing included too great a percentage of administrative personnel and that the administration was both indolent and isolated from actual teaching. Most of those issues have since been addressed, but now funding might actually lag behind needs.
Check your math. I get about 13-14% of students having disabilities--which is comparable to the state and national averages. I would agree with you that the number of complaints is not necessarily an indicator that Worthington is doing less well than other districts. Many parents in Columbus are actively discouraged from such complaints by a long history of exclusion, by the extreme isolation of parents whose students have special needs from one another, as well as different life experiences that do not support an expectation of being listened to. I believe that Worthington has two parent liaisons for special needs parents. Columbus has the same number.
Concerned parent

Columbus, OH

#21 Apr 5, 2010
I was one of the parents with whom Ms. Smith-Richards spoke. She also wrote an article regarding this situation in October, 2009. I was disappointed with the first article and am more so with the current. This reporter appears to have a limited understanding of our children; the students that the district is failing to adequately support and educate. Her references to “disabled” students make it sound as though all are like DJ with whom the article detailed. I believe this is the image people have in their mind when hearing the words “disabled student”. Many of our kids are high functioning, on and off the autism spectrum, many are “twice exceptional” meaning:“gifted” with deficits in general functionality, some are dyslexic, some have emotional disorders, some are hearing impaired or have an auditory or neuroprocessing disorder. Ms. Smith-Richards portrayed an image of special education that has disappointingly been the understanding for years; the emphasis that it is a child in a wheel chair or one mentally retarded and only an “extremely small minority” of the student population. I can only agree in that this only pertains to those students who are actually identified by the district who have “special” needs, those currently on an IEP or a 504 plan. What about the many students the district has failed to identify or won’t identify? Many students have learning difficulties because the district has failed to provide researched based Reading and Math programs for years.(See the document on the school district website of the Bowling Green audit).

I have lived in the Worthington community for 22 years; I have raised two boys through this school system. I know of several great teachers in this school district and as in many school districts there are bad ones. It is in how a school district administers to its staff and in turn to its students that make a great school district. If Worthington is an example of how a good school district is run, I don’t want to think of what other teachers, parents and children must endure.

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