Monday, May 23, 2016

Community Invited To Learn More About Emotional Behavioral Disabilities Program at Laurelhurst Elementary, Impacts On School And Community

Laurelhurst Elementary School is having a follow-up meeting tomorrow night, from 6-8pm, from their March meeting where Seattle Public School representatives discussed the Emotional Behavioral Disabilities (EBD) program at the school. 

At that meeting, current parents as well as community members at large filled the school cafeteria to discuss the program in general, the location of the program inside the main building instead of in a portable, how general education students are being impacted, safety of all students at the school, training of all staff at the school to manage the students, as well as many other topics of concern.  

Many of those who attended the March meeting reported to the Laurelhurst Blog that they felt the meeting was very one-sided with the District choosing which hand-written questions were to be answered, amongst many that were submitted, regarding the social and emotional program which focuses on students with a variety of unique challenges.

A PTA representative confirmed this saying "Attendees felt their questions were not answered at that meeting and hopefully the meeting tomorrow will be more conclusive and action oriented."

The Laurelhurst Blog received these comments:

It seems that the administration was only taking comments and questions that they found appropriate and set parameters for the meeting. I think it was also clear that they were accusing the community of being insensitive to the special needs program and setting the dialogue up to point fingers at our community.
The meeting ended before most people's questions were answered. When a parent tried to ask a question that had not been submitted, it was shocking how the District treated that parent in such a demeaning and dismissive manner.  
There was time for only a few questions at the very end of the meeting.  Certain questions were selected from those that people handed in. The questions were answered but no follow-up questions were allowed or comments of any kind. It was solely the District representatives running the show. If someone tried to speak up, they were shut down. And this is how the District believes it is acceptable to treat our parent community and neighborhood?   

The PTA said that the initial meeting came about as "some community members voiced concerns that learning is being negatively impacted at our cramped school with the current set-up for programs. So Principal Sarah Talbot agreed that it would be useful for neighbors to attend the forum, in addition to school parents, as neighbors sometimes see EBD activity around school."

Reports have been made that students in the program are sometimes outside of the school supervised with a staff person but other times it has been reported that staff members are asking anyone they see if they have seen a particular child who has left the school unauthorized.

Here are additional comments received:
We have lived near the school for almost 25 years and we have become increasingly concerned seeing students running away from the school being chased by a staff member and even being asked if we have seen a student. We feel for these students and their families. We are concerned the Principal is not managing this program efficiently and effectively so that the young students don't escape and staff are then obviously panicking trying to find them. And do their parents know their student walked out of the school and they temporarily can't be found?  
We live a block away from the school and are worried more and more about the emergency vehicles that seem to come to the school more and more frequently. We heard last year that a student turned a classroom upside down and then this year a student tried to climb up a ladder onto the roof. Are these students not being closely supervised? We certainly have compassion for these students, but at the same time, we hope all the students are safe inside the school, as well as those that live around the school. 

Tomorrow night's invitation says:
Please join us for a moderated discussion and solutions session regarding the learning challenges facing all our students at Laurelhurst Elementary.  The format/content of this evening was determined by a taskforce of LES general and special education parents and teachers

Attendees are:
Wyeth Jesse, Director of Special Education
Jill Geary, School Board Member
Kim Whitworth, Education Director for the Northeast Region
Sarah Talbot, Principal at Laurelhurst Elementary

Here is a video of the first 30 half of the March meeting, which solely includes the presentation from Principal Talbot and Wyeth Jesse. The video doesn't include all the questions "so it is not entirely representational of attending the meeting," a PTA representative said.
Here is information about the school program from their website.

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