A surprise to some parents of special education students for the 2017-2018 school year came in the form of notices that their children would be transferred to new campuses.
Some parents, like Stephanie Moody, had believed their children would stay at their previous school, as a part of what KISD terms “grandfathering.”
“The ‘grandfather’ provision typically involves only students who have just one year remaining at the school,” according to information provided by Terry Abbott, KISD chief communications officer.
“The district considers space availability in their program and if the services are offered at their home campus,” Abbott said.
This policy applies to all students, not just those in the special education program.
Moody’s daughter, Samantha, receives special education services from KISD. Samantha was transferred from Reeces Creek Elementary to Saegert Elementary for 2017-2018.
Moody objected to the transfer. During the 2016-2017 school year, she approached Joseph Welch, KISD’s executive director for student services, to appeal the transfer.
According to Moody, Welch assured her Samantha would not be transferred.
Welch told Moody to obtain a form from Reeces Creek to fill out regarding the transfer. When Moody submitted the form, she waited until June to learn that Samantha had, indeed, been transferred.
“She hasn’t made any friends at the new school,” though she had friends and was progressing at Reeces Creek, Moody said.
Since the transfer, Samantha has regressed, according to her mother. Moody describes pictures drawn by her daughter that Moody says show that regression. The word “bad” is repeatedly drawn in crayon, along with “no.”
Getting Samantha the assistance she needs has been difficult for Moody.
“I requested an evaluation in November 2016,” Moody said. A letter responding to her request was dated April 24, 2017, more than four months later.
The letter was signed by Holly Montelaro, KISD licensed specialist in school psychology.
“KISD follows the federal and state laws governing student evaluations,” said Abbott. “From the time consent is signed for the FIE (full individual evaluation), the school has 45 school days to complete the assessment.”
The evaluation assesses a child in all areas where he or she may have a disability. This includes health, vision, hearing, social-emotional, general intelligence, academic performance, communication and physical abilities.
Moody believes the evaluation would help Samantha receive appropriate education, but was not completed per KISD policy. Additionally, Samantha received no summer services from KISD.
When school started in August, Moody discovered Samantha’s records had not been transferred from Reeces Creek to Saegert.
Another drawback to Samantha’s transfer is that Saegert Elementary starts the school day an hour later than Reeces Creek. Moody must pull Samantha out of school multiple times a week for therapy sessions.
“She’s missing a lot of school because of that,” Moody said.
Melissa Velasquez has encountered a school transfer problem. Her daughter, Sienna, went from special education pre-kindergarten at Trimmier Elementary in 2016-2017 to a general education kindergarten at Alice Douse Elementary this year.
Velasquez put in a request for Sienna to stay at Trimmier.
“She has a hard time with transition,” Velasquez said.
The request was denied, since it didn’t fall under KISD “guidelines.”
Knowing Douse is a new school, Velasquez has tried to be patient. “I figured, let them develop, give them time.”
Sienna, however, is not receiving the services she needs, according to her mother.
“My big issue is that I have yet to hear from anyone about Sienna’s IEP (Individual Education Plan),” Velasquez said. “I’m on pins and needles.”
As of Sept. 28, KISD had 96 students in the process of being evaluated for the special education program, according to Abbott. As of Sept. 18, KISD had 4,604 students in the special education program.