Dysart board hears update on Exceptional Student Services

By Jennifer Jimenez, Special to Independent Newsmedia

Dysart Unified School District Exceptional Student Services Director Clark Crace provided information on suspension and expulsion for special education students and gave specifics on what the department currently has in place and ways to improve during a February board meeting.

Mr. Crace’s presentation included information on policy, procedure and support related to the department of Exceptional Student Services discipline. He said these students can be suspended for up to 10 days for violating the code of conduct.

“After 10 days the IEP (Individual Educational Program) team holds a manifestation determination review to determine if the behavior is a result of the student’s disability or as a result of an IEP not being implemented,” Mr. Crace said.

The department works to reduce disciplinary referrals with the help of a behavior team. Governing board member Christine Pritchard also said she understands the focus can not be on training just one person.

“We have a behavior analyst, coach and technician to help guide staff and parents to help the student,” Mr. Crace said.

Ms. Pritchard asked about what takes place if the department realizes the IEP is not being followed. Mr. Crace explained the IEP team ensures the appropriate steps are followed to ensure success.

Training also plays a major role. There is crisis prevention intervention, menu Mondays and Relias training. In an effort to improve quad teams are initiated as well as staff evaluations.

“Through Relias teachers are getting 40 hours of online training,” Mr. Crace said.

The ESS department offers other training opportunities throughout the year. The list includes Monday PD, IEP-Pro/Unique Learning Help Lab, New Educator Cadre, Summer Seminar, Red 180/System 44, Compliance Reports and feedback and walkthroughs and instructional coaching.

Part of the training involved understanding the IEP process, how to implement positive behavior supports and the road to employment. Mr. Crace gave insight into the ADE annual parent survey, which he said went out very late last school year, but did receive 108 responses.

About 84 percent agreed they worked together as an equal partner in developing their child’s IEP and 85 percent said their relationship with the school had a positive effect on their child’s education,” Mr. Crace said.

Superintendent Dr. Gail Pletnick said the district is actively seeking ways to engage parents and provide two-way communication.

“Surveys provide a way to gather information on our parents perceptions and experiences. This information then feeds our planning processes,” she said.

“I know the department expressed the need to retain staff and I am happy to hear that personalization is a focus and specifically designing what each need is,” Ms. Pritchard said.

Dr. Pletnick said regardless of whether a child is an ESS student are general education, it is important to handle each situation individually. She said they need to collect all the relevant information and make decisions that support helping the child make better choices or supporting their needs so there is not a repeat of negative behavior.

“We have a matrix of responses to discipline violations, but all actions support creating a positive learning environment for each child and ensuring the safety of every child,” she said.

The department intends to focus on staff training, curriculum supports, compliance and recruiting and retaining district staff for the ESS department. Dr. Pletnick added having community resources available for behavioral, financial, social or emotional support that can provide supporting services to a student help the child’s success in all areas of life.

“A child who comes to school with their needs meet in other areas, such as health care, family counseling, etc. will be better able to successfully engage in the learning environment of the school,” she said.


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