Sep 12, 2008

Missed Services for DC Special Education Students !

In spite of Dr. Harris being relieved of her responsibility as the Deputy Chancellor of special education, self-contained programs are still amiss in DC Public schools. Teachers and related service providers continue working out of their certification areas without a reprieve. Special education self-contained programs lack special education teachers. Many lack educational aides while school social workers have been assigned duty to full time E.D. classrooms and are functioning as substitutes, and educational aides. The result: students are missing out on valuable instruction and related services. Check out the email below from a related service provider at the Hamilton-Moten Academy.

September 10, 2008

Hi Candi

"Please don't mention my name however you can discuss my concerns. Yesterday the educational assistant was on leave and the teacher and I were in the classroom. I am asked to do the behavior sheets when it is really the aide's responsibility.
On 9-8-08 a 10 year old student swung at me and threatened to come to school with a knife today and stab me.
I left a message on the Principal's cell phone and also notified security this morning.

Since we have started school the teacher has taken off three times and the aide two times and one occasion both took off on the same day; only three students came to school on that day and I suggested putting them in another class but the Principal put two aides in the room. I have not been off work since school began. I feel as though I am being forced to be a aide, teacher, and police officer at the Hamilton-Moten Academy which makes it harder to be a clinician for the children when you are seen in these other positions. Also we are mandated to do our medicaid notes, but the service providers do not have access to the Internet and computers. This new model is terrible."
Posted by Candi.


Anonymous said...

I've got a question about special ed students and violence in the classroom. What can be done when a student is incredibly violent? I know with special ed students, suspension is not always the answer, but what is when they exhibit behaviors that are wildly out of control? I was a new teacher last year and I was assaulted by more than one student and I was essentially told that nothing could be done about it. Some teachers told me to call the police and file a report, but I didn't want to do that. What else can be done and how can these children's needs be met? My principal and the "counselor" (I use that term loosely because she barely did her job and tried to get folks to sign forms to say that she had SST meetings that never happened) basically treated me like it was my fault, and because I was new, I took it. But, those students exhibit the same behavior with everyone (except for the aides that I know are taking kids into the bathroom and beating them, but I don't have actual proof) and I just don't know what steps to take to ensure that the students are safe and that I am safe as well. I have some of the same students again this year, by the way.

jmannii said...

First, you can assess your own work with them. Ask others for specific strategies and words you can use to defuse situations and redirect children. Personally, I like Life Space Crisis Intervention although I only have an introductory knowledge of it. It seems like it is useful for both mild and severe cases of anger.

Second, I agree that you can file charges against students. Sad, but maybe effective.

Third, learn some ways to protect yourself without hurting the child, like a good block or how to release someone's grip on you. You may have to watch self defense videos on the Internet or take a class.

Finally, assess the child's classroom situation. As a social worker, I could usually help children maintain their behavior in my office but oftentimes the skills did not transfer into the classroom. I would share with teachers whatever I was teaching the child during sessions and some teachers would just nod and smile, then not reinforce the concepts during the week. These particular teacher tended to have poorly planned lessons, lack of structure, slow responses to students' needs - all of which contribute to student misbehavior.

So you may want to see if it's a classroom problem. In that case, you may not be able to do much unless you can gain the teacher's cooperation.

FYI, I've never had students hit me, but a student spit in my face twice and I have had to restrain a student, intervene in fights between elementary school students, and keep children from leaving/entering/destroying a room.

Candi said...

Thank you Jmannii for provding an answer to this question. I have another suggestion as well. The Washington Teachers' Union offers a course often taught by Sylvia Mills titled: Managing Anti-Social Behavior. It is currently being offered right now to teachers and providers by Ms. Mills- but I encourage all to check it out in the upcoming semesters. I actually took the ER& D series course to become an instructor and I highly recommend the semester course for teachers !

Anonymous said...

Jmannii and Candi, I really appreciate your advice. I feel like I have a very well planned and structured day. My principal and administrators frequently tell me that I plan more meaningful and effective lessons that many other teachers in the building. So far, this year, I have asked veteran teachers at my school to observe me during their planning times to get more perspective on how my teacher actions are affecting student behaviors. My students haven't been physical with me thus far (even the most violent ones from last year), but a few are still are incredibly violent with each other. I will definitely look up that WTU class!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes they get sent to an alternative educational program and it's intense behavorially driven ! Why did you get kicked out of your school ? "I punched a teacher !" Twenty five of all the rascals kicked out of theirJr. High school buildings all in one classroom.Yeeha !It's a rodeo !The security guards in the building actually are trained prison guards.The police have an office in the school building.Most of the students straighten up or they don't leave. Either that or the next stop is a jail cell and or high security detention.It's the last stop to straighten up and it's tough love.It's a point system and if you don't get the points, you don't get out and it's not as fun as a regular school.Very structured environment and they normally get the swing of it.It would surprise you how intelligent the majority of your students are. What are you doing in here ? "I shot a girl in the butt with a BB gun at the bus stop. What 's up with you and why are you here ? I brought a gun to school and we had some gang problems.The study of gangs and school violence !They have their own language street rhetoric and signs to be identified. Wonder how much training is going on with our new teacher's concerning.They have boot camp programs and that's tough !You're in there with the big guys from the military in that program.The first few days they break down crying and it's hard !Then the psychologist team goes in and get to the bottom of things.ALl are wonderful programs but it's difficult for mom and family to see happening to their kids. At the end they turn around and most don't want to come back !Excellent operationally driven programs and for some it's a last chance before a real jail cell.Most of the teacher's have prison reform experience or have been probation officers and advanced degrees with extensive training in behavorial management and or psychology as wellas BA majors. Do more with less with NCLB and 10 % in public education. Complain about taxes now andsupporting school buildings in America and you'll pay for your prison systems and let's turn them around before they go there !Did you ever think you'd hear teacher's were being trained to carry pistols in school buildings for protection ?When HS teacher's are being raped and killed is that not enough red flag to send the money ? The policy pushers come in and school board members,"what does that teacher's sign mean ? "Keep door locked at all times." What do you think it means ? Do what the teacher's tell you and get them what they need!It's all the teacher's fault and we need to fire all the bad teacher's. No,you need to fund and support American school buildings! You guys are in Washington as teacher's and why don't you get a team of teacher's and go speak to the congress !Where is Nancy Pelosi and set an appt.! We want to see it on CNN !Get those senators in there raising a stink and some of them do !Yeild to the speaker of the house ! The school teacher's in DC want five minutes of your time !Lou Dobbs was just saying he didn't understand why more teacher's weren't a part of congress representing the voices of this country as well as others.Candi would be a good one to get on Lou Dobbs and she's got the real deal going on and all the reality checks of what's really happening!Some teacher's are placed in an alternative school building to be fired and it's so tough teaching for most they quit and the system doesn't have to worry about law suits.Most regular class room teacher's sent there don't make it long in alternative buildings and you've got to be cut out for it and it's not for everybody !The majority of HR concerns with teacher's running into problems in their school buildings is leadership and poorly diven operations. What's the school climate in the buildings the teacher's are finding issue with? What's teacher retention and how much support is the principle getting that's in her first year ? NCLB has darn near bank-rupted public education and the teacher's are to blame ? It's a system issue and it starts at the top !Keep the faith !