Alarmed, Browards ESE Advisory Council a parent-dominated school district committee called a special meeting last week to inform the community. The school district alerted parents to the meeting through its automated call system, but no district staffer attended to answer the publics questions.
District leaders say the hastily called meeting left them unable to send a representative. In that absence, parents listened to more than two hours of pent-up frustration and rage.
Find the cuts somewhere else, thats what I say, said parent Nathalie Adams, who as chairwoman of the ESE council has repeatedly feuded with district administrators.
In defiant comments sprinkled throughout the night, Adams veered between warning parents about the upcoming staffing cuts, and blasting the school district for a pattern of noncooperation and dishonesty.
Parent Marsha Goldsby showed up to the meeting after receiving the robocall, eager to find out what exactly was going on. She soon grew frustrated that the meeting sounded like a lot of griping, and she walked out before it concluded.
NOT SO SIMPLE
Still, all the talk of funding shortfalls left Goldsby really worried that her 6-year-old son Evan might lose his school paraprofessional a service Goldsby had fought hard to obtain.
Evan, his mother said, is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but the situation is complicated because Evan also has leukemia. Because of the leukemia, Evan cant take his ADHD medicines, which can make managing his classroom behavior more difficult.
When Evan started kindergarten a year ago, Goldsby thought she had a secret weapon: The boy had previously attended preschool at a Nova Southeastern University-affiliated facility, where undergraduate students and a psychologist had studied Evans behavior. The Nova team even produced a written report on Evan that was essentially a how-to manual for teaching him.
When Evan started kindergarten at Endeavour Primary Learning Center in Lauderhill, Goldsby said she brought in the report on the first day of school.
Im like, This is what you have to do to deal with him, Goldsby said. If you do this, you will get the best results out of him.
But no one at the school read the report, Goldsby said. Evans behavior suffered.
Francis, the ESE director, said that even with the cutbacks, the district is making it a point to train schools and principals on how to better serve special-needs families. Online training sessions are one key initiative, she said, and Goldsbys story, while unacceptable, is also a teachable moment.
Im trying to develop a culture in the district that we are there to help the schools learn and understand what it means to take care of our children, Francis said.