So, I'm commenting on this article by Washington Post's, Bill Turque, much too late, but I've been busy and also I've been trying to digest DCPS' decision to move Transition Academy at Shadd to a self-contained space at Ballou High School.
My first thought was: They'll burn the school down. The Shadd kids will literally burn the school to the ground. What was the former sad, shithole high school in Southeast will be reduced to rubble and ashes. I guess it wouldn't be such a bad thing.
The students at Shadd are in a self-contained environment for a reason. Their behaviors are intense and extremely severe. Many were students who grew up in self-contained special education classrooms and haven't been with their non-disabled peers for years. Other students came directly from residential treatment facilities that had been shut down. Shadd is like the "Lean on Me" school times 1,000. My former colleague and I used to joke that it was "THE inner city school." The mother of all horrible urban school settings.
My second thought upon reading the above article was: How in the world do they plan on servicing the needs of these students? Don't get me wrong, Shadd was not the therapeutic setting that it claimed to be. In fact, there are many things that went horribly wrong at Shadd in the one year I worked there. But there were enough staff members to help maintain student order and most students felt they had a slight connection to some staff member in the building.
I've read that they are reducing the staff at Shadd from about 60 or so to approximately 14. I had to read that a few times because I can't imagine how 14 staff plan on containing the behaviors of 70 emotional disturbed students. I spoke with a former colleague yesterday and we were discussing the other students that aren't going to Ballou. I asked where they were going and he said that he didn't know. Where are all these disturbed kids going in DC?
Until DCPS recognizes that students in special education have unique needs, they will continue to get sued by advocates and educational attorneys. If DCPS wants to throw emotionally disturbed students back to their home schools, they are going to have to deal with the consequences of those decisions. I hope that DCPS can take a step into the future and begin to comply with the laws that protect our most vulnerable and fragile students.