Controversial cuts to special education have some Metro parents fired up. Metro Nashville Public Schools cut about 130 paraprofessionals who help students get through the day.
Numbering in the dozens, parents opposed to the cuts in special education used a state disability conference Friday as a forum to speak out.
"The administration knew that these cuts were coming for quite some time, and this is a clear case, I think, of MNPS being reactive with parents," parent Daynise Couch said.
As the school year closed, Metro Schools cut the jobs for paraprofessionals, who are not teachers but classroom assistants who work with several students any given day.
The move did not sit well with parents like Erin Richardson.
"It is a vital service that for some students makes the difference for them," she said. "I believe that these cuts threaten Metro's efforts to move toward inclusive educational practices, and they stand to negatively impact students with disabilities."
The district used a federal stimulus grant to add additional paraprofessionals several years ago. It expected the money would disappear this year.
"And so, we made some shifts based on abilities and based on what the job needs were," said MNPS spokeswoman Meredith Libbey.
The district went school by school, analyzing its staff and their skill set for a decision that was not easy but necessary.
"In doing that analysis, we did find, for example, that we had some paraprofessionals who were no longer able to meet the physical demands of a job that might include lifting a child and that they were physically no longer capable," Libbey said.
The district held a job fair Friday for the displaced workers. Some will find new jobs in transportation, food services or clerical work. Some parents said it is a shame, and their children will notice a difference.
"There are enough dollars in somebody's budget somewhere to make sure this doesn't happen," Couch said.
The district will hold a meeting with parents next week to explain the changes. Those opposed to the cuts are hoping other parents will show up and demand that the district reconsider the cuts.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.