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TN Department of Education and Johnson County parents and educators discuss special needs students

By Rebecca Herman

A group of Johnson County parents have reached out to the Tennessee Department of Education and local educators to discuss concerns for their children with special needs and to find out what can be done to mend communications and ultimately help their children flourish in school and in life.
“Some parents feel they haven’t been included in building what’s necessary for their child and some have been working for six to eight years and still don’t feel that they are being heard,” said Nancy Bailey.
Bailey joined together with Support and Training for Exceptional Parents, which is a not-for-profit organization that helps Tennessee families who have children and youth with disabilities, and also contacted the Tennessee Department of Education in order to bring parents and educators together.
The Department of Education sent a team to Johnson County four times; they came in October of 2015 to meet with parents, in December 2015 to meet with the Johnson County School System, in March 2016 for staff development for teachers and then met with all parties for a collaborative meeting on Thursday, April 24. There were over 40 people in attendance.
“We were glad to be invited to the meeting because we are always working to get the best for our kids,” said Paula Norton, Supervisor of Special Education for the Johnson County School System. “We are excited about every opportunity for our educators to get additional training and I think our teachers are doing a good job meeting students’ needs.”
The topic for this meeting was supporting behavior and was presented by Alison Gauld, who is an experienced educator and a parent of a special needs child. This topic was chosen due to the large number of questions pertaining to behavior issues that were brought up in the parent and educator meetings.
Gauld began by answering questions about behavior concerns.
“Behavior isn’t always an obvious and outward thing, sometimes it’s acting out but then something that can’t be seen, like anxiety,” Gauld said.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.