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Special education is safe, secure

We disagree with assertions made in William Cruz’ letter printed Thursday, April 19, regarding one of the classrooms at Nisswa Elementary.

First of all, Nisswa staff take our responsibility to provide a safe, secure learning environment for all students and staff seriously.

The classroom to which Mr. Cruz refers is one of a handful of special education programs in our district designed to meet the needs of our most challenging students. It is true that student behaviors can be and have been turbulent. Fortunately, there is a team, including case manager, parents, classroom teacher, and SPED personnel that determine goals and objectives for each child.

Our specialized classroom program is running well; we have appreciated consistency and good progress after a challenging school start. Staff levels are appropriate for the students being served. Four adults are working with six students. The classroom teacher and three Educational Assistants work hard in difficult situations, always keeping in the forefront the best interest of the children under their care.

Our staff has on-going and appropriate training. The building administrator and classroom teacher have worked closely with team members to ensure adequate communication, training, and support is provided. All four staff working in this classroom are current with their Crisis Prevention Intervention training. They attend bi-monthly meetings to communicate and proactively plan for concerns that arise. They participate in staff development opportunities through the Paul Bunyan SPED Cooperative and take advantage of cross-categorical trainings.

The teacher and educational assistants support their students academically, socially, and emotionally. They are assigned one/one to students during recess time. Parents of every child in the room, along with teachers and specialists, have determined goals and objectives to provide an excellent safety net while carefully following through on specific plans to develop independence and social connections for their children. Each child’s program is monitored by the building principal and supported by the Paul Bunyan Education Co-op staff and district level administration. Mr. Cruz’s concerns for all students and school staff is well noted, but we disagree with the claims he makes about safety and student care.

Erin Herman, Principal

William Severson, Director Schools

Nisswa Elementary School ISD 181

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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