Protect Special Education and Adapted Physical Education in School District 51

Protect Special Education and Adapted Physical Education in School District 51

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Michael Lans started this petition to School District 51 and

Dear Superintendent Diana Sirko, Dr. Brian Hill, Student Services Exec. Director Patti Virden, and Special Education Director Teresa Bandel-Schott;

We have been excited by the leadership of School District 51 and their focus around student development and opportunities, especially for our most vulnerable students and community members.  Recently, district administration informed staff that Adapted Physical Education, as a direct service provider, will be eliminated following the 2021-2022 school year. What will remain will be one teacher working in an indirect capacity, consulting with General Education PE teachers and Special Education staff.  This is a reduction from the current 4 teachers who work directly with the students on a weekly basis.  The decision to eliminate this direct service program is not equitable for our students with disabilities, and will be contradictory to the "engage, equip, and empower" vision of the district. This program currently provides students accessibility and benefit that they are unable to gain through General Education alone.  This decision has intersectional impact as it will also disproportionately affect our culturally diverse students that constitute a significant base of students serviced.  

To eliminate this direct service program would not only endanger the safety and health of our most vulnerable students, it will take away their right to access their equitable public education. The responsibility to deliver beneficial and appropriate Physical Education content would then fall upon Special Education teachers and General Education PE teachers, both would have much less expertise working with special populations in this capacity and lack time and equipment to individualize the instruction.  This decision would add extra burden and workload to Special and General Education teachers, and could potentially result in physical harm to some of our more fragile and exceptional students. To eliminate this direct service program is to take a giant step in the wrong direction. 

We feel you would not cut this program if you knew of the impact and experienced the benefits to students with disabilities and their typically developing peers who learn to work side-by-side.  The benefits span beyond a day, or a year, in a school.  Students are provided opportunities to learn life-skills, improve their quality of life, and thrive in physical and social environments outside of the traditional classroom.  The staff supporting this set of learners is uniquely qualified to focus on achievable skills that will help develop each learner and enable them to utilize and maximize their individual abilities.  

We hope that you will consider that this is not the place to scale back funding and ultimately NOT in the best interest of our most at-risk students.  Our community of educators, students, parents, and taxpayers hope that you will reconsider this decision.

Sincerely, 

MCVSD#51 Adapted Physical Education Teachers

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