Dr. Laura Manges, Director of Student Services, informed the Milford School District Board of Education that a study conducted by the federal government found that the district had a disproportionate number of white students receiving speech and language services. The study used relative risk ratio methodology provided by the federal government based on the December 1 student count.
“On September 30, we report to the state Department of Education and that’s how we generate most of our units in the district,” Manges said. “On December 1, we are required to report to the federal government on students that we were identifying with disabilities throughout the district as well as the age groups and the race and ethnicity of the students. We received a letter on June 3 of last year that we had a disproportionate representation of white children in speech and language impairments.”
Once the district received the letter, they were required to conduct an evaluation of child placing practices, a federal requirement. The district must review how they seek and identify students with disabilities as well as the evaluation purposes and state the eligibility requirements for identification. The district submitted a response and, on October 14, were told that the district was correctly implementing regulatory requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“I know Dr. Clark shared with you some of the difficulties we were facing within the last few months identifying speech pathologists,” Manges said. “So, we have been able to get two virtual speech pathologists in place at Morris Early Childhood Center. In addition, we have hired two speech facilitators and I’m pleased to report that over the course of the last two weeks, I’ve been able to observe them with students in practice. The children were fascinated, they’re engaged and it’s a wonderful methodology. It’s not at all like what we thought at times during COVID where it was very difficult for parents to have our students attend virtual sessions without supports.”
Board member Dr. Adam Brownstein asked if Manges could provide information about the need for speech pathology pre- versus post-COVID. Manges explained that requests for evaluation of speech had gone up significantly. However, the district only had about 20 students district wide. The federal report found that the district was 0.08 percent higher than it should have been regarding white students receiving speech and language services.
“As a smaller district, we came down to having about eight students more that were identified as white children this year as opposed to last year,” Manges said.
Board member Dave Vezmar asked Manges about an evaluation conducted in the spring regarding the district’s autism program.
“Like most of the categories, we did well, but the one category that was consistently low was the personal independence,” Vezmar said. “I read that as life skills, and I am just curious what we’ve been doing or putting in place to try to get those scores up?”
Manges explained that there are new staff members in place, especially at the secondary level, who have been working on increasing opportunities for students. The district received a new vehicle that was used to transport students in the program, and another was expected to arrive soon. This will allow the district to develop extraneous opportunities that will allow students in the autism program to become engaged both inside and outside the district.
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