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State education office taking comments on disabilities policy

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State education office taking comments on disabilities policy
By WV MetroNews Staff

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Education held its second of three public hearings on revisions to the state’s policy regarding students with specialized instruction related to disabilities.

The department’s Office of Special Education held its meeting Tuesday at the Edison Professional Development Center, a facility of Kanawha County Schools. The office held its first hearing Monday in Beckley.

The revisions to Policy 2419 follows changes in federal and state education policy, including the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in December 2015. The bipartisan policy allows states certain flexibility in achieving high academic standards.

Office Assistant Director Susan Beck said the state’s policy has not been changed since 2014.

“It is not a policy we open up every year,” she said.

The office is currently conducting a 60-day comment period on necessary changes, which ends June 12 at 4 p.m. The office will be presented to the state Board of Education at its July meeting.

One of the most debated matters by the 16 attendees Tuesday was the maximum number of students with disabilities allowed in an integrated classroom. The previous policy did not set a limit, instead suggesting a 30 percent of the students. Under the new policy, the office is proposing a 30 percent cap or 50 percent if a co-teacher is present.

Much of the backlash regarded the percentages being too high, as teachers said they may fail to address student needs effectively.

Beck said they will take down the comments and see if they can make necessary changes.

“Sometimes with us looking at these policies all the time, we miss things,” she said.

The final meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in Morgantown.

Comments can also be made online at https://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/.