School Board member Colleen Conklin (File photo)

Flagler Schools switches to district-based ES system

The change means the district will no longer have staffing specialists in every school.
By: 
May. 18, 2018

Flagler Schools is changing the way it handles staffing for its special education students, doing away with a system that involved teams based in individual schools and reorienting the program to be more district-based. 

That means cutting down the number of staffing specialists districtwide from 10, which included one at each school, to six, who are based at the district level rather than the school level.

That change, ESE Director Tim King told School Board members in a May 15 School Board workshop, should create greater continuity in students’ experiences between district schools.

“There’s no way to build a consistent program if each school has their own individual person who’s responsible for everything at that school, but nothing for that program,” King said. “So when you start to look at districts that are achieving well and they’re doing well, they have this (districtwide) model.”

In designing the new system, King looked at the way the ESE program works in St. Johns County, which has been successful, he said.

The new system, he said, will allow ESE students to experience a “spiraling curriculum” rather than the disjointed experience some are getting now.

Under the old, school-based system, King said, parents sometimes complained that it took them several years to get on the same page with program staff about their students’ needs, and then, by the time they did, the student was ready to matriculate to a new school and the process had to begin all over again.

A district-based system, School Board member Colleen Conklin said, could also be more objective than a school-based one.

“There’s a sense of objectivity that is lost if the person is always in that location; the relationships that are being built are with the staff,” she said. “So what you hear from parents — some, not all, because we know some parents are not happy with this decision — but the person who can come in and be objective and not have that personal tie and relationship to either school or staff … they’re more objective, because there’s not a lot of those ties, if you will. Again, don’t know if that’s going to work or not, but what’s currently in place doesn’t seem to always be working to the benefit of our students.”