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District 38 special ed program in need of change, director says

Mar 24, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The new special education director for Fremont County School District 38 wants the school board to revisit a different program for the Arapahoe schools.

At the board meeting Jan. 20, Marilyn Flammang presented a program model used at the Roseburg Public Schools in Oregon. Flammang told the board that the most important change would be to have a separate room to help students who have behavioral problems, lack of social competence, often misbehave or have a more serious criminal problem.

"We definitely need behavior intervention," Flammang said. "We try to exhaust everything that we can do here."

A safety audit report done for the district in August by Stone Training and Associates confirmed that a separate room could benefit the students and not remove them entirely from their classroom time, Flammang added. Even though it is good for students to spend time in a regular classroom, she said, the other students can be negatively affected by the behavior problems of their fellow classmates.

"I would like to meet the needs of all the kids at Arapahoe," she said.

Students often are sent to Sunrise School in Hudson or Fremont County Group Homes in Riverton that help treat behavioral problems. Flammang said parents have expressed they do not want their children to be sent away for long periods of time and would rather see a different system set in place.

"Unfortunately, it's sending kids off campus," she said. "This program needs parent support."

She said other students with criminal problems are sent to a boarding school in Worland, another facility in Casper or a center in Sheridan.

Flammang told the board that with a separate center for special education, the school would need to have a certified behavior interventionist, a counselor and a certified teacher, along with the special education director. The district already has a behavior interventionist, Cheri LeBeau. LeBeau is not certified, however, and is paid through a grant that ends after this year, Flammang said.

The district is also the only district in the county that has a play therapist -- another intervention position that helps children express their experiences and feelings through play time. Flammang said case managers and paraprofessionals would also facilitate paperwork and classroom time for teachers.

"The goal is to have (students) in the regular classroom all day long," she said. "I think all students will benefit from this."

Roseburg model

The Roseburg model requires several levels of intervention and instruction in order to work effectively. The plan also involves a detailed process to determine who needs intervention and which interventions should be applied.

Several screenings help identify an individual's needs. The behavior is tracked and evaluated often. "Diagnostic tools" are used to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the student. Again, the students are tracked continuously so behavior goals are met and progress is made.

A "pyramid of instruction" includes adult or peer mentoring, reteaching expectations to all students, and school-wide social and emotional curriculum plan.

Throughout the process, staff members revisit the status of students and determine what is working and what is not.

Arapahoe's current special education program is assisting 70 students in grades K-12. Flammang said the school board has voted against this model before because it did not have sufficient information to make a decision.

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