Oct 9, 2008
SOS - DC Shadd Center: A Wholly Mess !
This is a follow up to my earlier piece about "NO Special Education Teacher For You." It seems that the DC Shadd center which is reported by my colleagues to be a self-contained warehouse of students with emotional disturbances. There is a significant teacher and service provider shortage with morale problems and many safety concerns for students and staff which are leading to high turnover rates for DC staff. Read the anonymous post and feel free to weigh in on how we can get the troops out to help ! SOS!
"I am so frustrated with news today that DCPS are putting more services in place for special ed students in eight elementary schools in the hopes of preventing further transfers to private placement. Haven't seen the article but NPR said that the schools will get additional clinicians and wrap-around services. What about providing for the students with an emotional disturbance who are most in need and are completely out of compliance (academically and clinically)over at Shadd? I have trepidation about sharing information publicly for a number of reasons. Please handle this as coming from anonymous source if included in your blog or if repeated in conversation. I don't want to discourage future employees from coming here because the need is so great, and am concerned about providing rough numbers of staff shortages because in three weeks there are going to be significant structural changes to the Shadd program. Also, the enrollment numbers are in flux, (i.e. many un-registered students who will be removed from the roster, and absenteeism through the roof, with no attendance counselor to hold parents and students accountable). This translates to many classrooms slated to have 12 students, who only have four or six show on a given day. Original numbers reflect a program with 176 students enrolled, and 17 classrooms. As of a week ago, we had 98 officially registered. With the original numbers, I have heard we are short about 7 special education teachers, and about 13 social workers. We have had several contract social workers but they don't remain long because of the climate here, and because of dissatisfaction with Dr. Harris' model of remaining in the classroom. We have only four or five behavior techs in the classrooms, so the handful of clinicians really fill this void. We have quite a few techs that serve the function of "crisis managers" but they aren't in classrooms, they're monitoring the halls, or providing interventions. We have a speech therapist, a couple of psychologists (one doing assessments, and one providing interventions another recently quit.) I have not seen any indication of an itinerant Occupational Therapist or Physical Therapist , and have to believe that there are a handful of students in need of these services. And then we have about 15 or so Special Education Specialists temporarily assigned here to provide support in the halls, in some classrooms, and a couple during lunch. There are still many classrooms with only one staff present. New staff are trickling in at the rate of about one or two per week, but they seem to be quiting at the same rate. It could get somewhat better once the structural changes are implemented at the end of October, but morale is really waining. They really need to find some DCPS social workers (who are invested in the system so -- unlike the contract workers -- they won't leave) and some permanent teachers and techs. Otherwise, I don't see the program being able to succeed. I am particularly concerned about vast majority of the students not receiving services and the safety issues. Thanks-" Anonymous educator. Posted by The Washington Teacher