Douglas County School District will soon launch an electronic survey for parents and district staff to provide feedback on the district's special education services. The survey is not in response to …
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Douglas County School District will soon launch an electronic survey for parents and district staff to provide feedback on the district's special education services.
The Board of Education requested this based on community interest shown in a survey that included questions about special education, according to Nancy Ingalls, DCSD personalized learning officer. The survey is an effort to continue improving the school district, she said.
“One of the benefits is to get feedback for our community on ways to continue serving our students the best we can,” Ingalls said. “We are always looking for information that we can use to improve the quality of services that we provide for our students and families.”
At the beginning of the year, school board president David Ray introduced a resolution for Erin Kane, the former interim superintendent, to implement a Special Education Task Force made up of community members and district staff.
Ray's goal was not to undermine the work that special education staff had already been doing, but to improve upon existing services, he said at a Jan. 16 board meeting.
“Certainly it's been my experience as a principal that some of the hardest-working people are those that work with children with special needs,” Ray said. “This task force is really an opportunity to bring the community and staff together for specific things to work on.”
The school board approved the resolution and named board member Christina Ciancio-Shor as a liaison. She volunteered for the role, Ray said.
"As an educator and former principal, she has extensive background in the area of education," he said. "It was a really good match because of her expertise.”
Ciancio-Shor facilitated the task force with the help of Ingalls, Kane and former deputy superintendent Steve Cook.The task force met four times between January and June. A mix of parents, teachers and community members attended the meetings, which were open to the public. Some but not all participants have students with special needs in the district.
The meetings initiated conversation about the district's current special education services. As of Dec. 1, 2017, the district had 7,300 students ages 3 to 21 on Individual Education Programs, according to district staff.
At the beginning of the summer, the school district signed a contract with Hanover Research for $40,500. The research firm has assisted the Special Education Task Force in designing a survey to gauge views of the district's special education services. The research firm is sending out the survey.
“They are able to design a survey that will be statistically valid and research-based,” Ingalls said of the research firm. “Also, they have the platform to administer the survey in a way that responses are confidential and anonymous.”
In the upcoming weeks, DCSD will send an email to staff and parents with a link to the survey, which will be open from Aug. 23 to Sept. 13. Ray encourages all parents to participate in the survey, noting the importance of hearing from families who went through the special education process and did not qualify. The survey navigates participants in different directions based on their experience, he Ray said.
The Special Education Task Force will review feedback at a meeting in the future. A timeline has not been established, according to Ingalls.
The task force plans on presenting the school board with the strengths and weaknesses of the district's special education services, along with specific recommendations.
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