I’m doing research into a situation that has serious implications for a local school district. Without going into all the gory details, this very large school district is seeking to increase the number of children in self-contained, structured, Pre-K classrooms for students with autism without increasing the number of teachers. It is expected that the number of students in each classroom will increase by up to 50% within a year or so, and all additional students will also have a diagnosis of autism.
This is obviously very bad, and the negative impacts on these children are too numerous to even list. But this is where you can help.
Those of us organizing to overturn this policy need examples of school districts in the U.S. who started off having fairly reasonable student-teacher ratios, raised those ratios presumably in an attempt to save money, and then ended up with significant negative impact on the students, the classrooms, and the school district. By that last point I mean: students missed more IEP goals, classrooms suffered serious safety problems, students struggled in successive years because the new environment slowed their developmental progress, a significant number of parents sued the school districts, things got so bad that the school district either had to retract the policy or provide numerous additional services or aids to the students because of lawsuits, the end result cost the district more money than if they’d just left things alone in the first place, etc.
If arguing against the policy on the basis that it’s just educationally wrong for these students isn’t enough – even though it should be – then one based on financial costs supported by evidence of what’s happened in other school districts who’ve tried this may gain more traction.
So, I’m putting out a plea for your help in crowdsourcing this research project. I’m looking for the name and state of any school district where this has happened, a description of what happened, and supporting information somewhere online that we can collect and present. You can either post in the comments here and e-mail me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am grateful for any help you can provide! Thank you!
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