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Starting this fall, Spotsylvania County students ages 5 to 8 who are classified as developmentally delayed will move to another special education category or to the general classroom
Date published: 6/18/2008
"Even if one Spotsylvania County child has been mislabeled as having mental retardation during the past year, that is one child who will not succeed because he has lost access to the flexibility in team planning that comes with the developmental delay disability category," she said.
'GIVE US A YEAR'
Spotsylvania has used the "developmentally delayed" program for nearly 30 years.
In Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, the program ends at age 5.
In the 2007-2008 school year, there were 203 developmentally delayed students in Spotsylvania.
Students who were in the program and don't fit in any of the existing special education categories will be placed in the general classroom, where they still may work with specialists or take remedial classes.
"We don't envision any child being left out," Rice said. "Special education isn't the only way a child gets help."
Superintendent Jerry Hill said his staff will present the School Board a detailed analysis of the students affected.
"I would just say to the parents, 'Give us a year. Give us a chance to see how this goes,'" he said.
Some question whether those students will thrive in regular classrooms.
School Board member Linda Wieland, who taught in Spotsylvania County schools for 30 years, says a majority of the tests available for classifying students do not give an accurate reading of a child's ability until age 8.
"The developmental delay program offered, in my mind, the least restrictive environment for these children because they're little," she said. "If you threw them in a class with regular education students, they're drowning."
She wonders whether teachers in traditional classrooms will have enough support to give these students the attention they need.
Craig Williams said his children have flourished under the developmentally delayed program and worries how his 6-year-old will fare under the new system, where the child may be given a "harder" label.
"There are diminished expectations for those kids, so my son would languish in that class," he said.
Karen Bolipata 540/374-5418