Short of special ed teachers, SL must turn away area student
For the only time in his seven-year career leading the Storm Lake School District, Superintendent Carl Turner has asked the school board to deny a request for a student to open-enroll into the local schools.
During a special meeting Friday, Turner said that the district's student numbers are already too high in elementary special education, the area in which the student was to be enrolled from a neighboring district that does not have a teacher at the needed level.
Storm Lake has spent the last year looking for a special education teacher for an elementary position with no applicants, Turner said. "It wouldn't be prudent to add a kid from another district when we have too many now. It's not that I don't want to serve this kid, but my first responsibility is to the kids in our own district." Turner noted that the numbers situation in special education could become even more challenging as it is anticipated that Faith, Hope & Charity facility may add more elementary-age residents over the summer.
Board members asked what the family of the denied student will do. According to Turner, they will be disappointed, but hopefully will understand the situation in Storm Lake.
They may choose to open enroll to some other district, or go to their current school board to get that district to appeal to Storm Lake, which would probably also be turned down, Turner said. If the family chose to move into the Storm Lake district, however, the child would be served here.
The district is not alone in its struggles to find enough special education teachers and staff to meet the needs. According to district officials, there are just not enough students in colleges going into the specialty. Earlier in the meeting, the school board accepted resignations from three special education classroom assistants, two at the elementary level and one at the high school.