Local News

Parents Push to Retain Small Special-Ed Classes

Posted April 30, 2007 5:43 p.m. EDT
Updated April 30, 2007 6:58 p.m. EDT

— Parents and advocates for disabled children are lobbying against a proposal to lift size limits on special education classes.

The State Department of Public Instruction sees class-size requirements as constraints, and proposes to eliminate teacher-student ratios for special education. A class of seven students with autism, for example, is required by state rules to have one teacher and two assistants.

But advocates for children with special needs, especially autism, worry this move will lead to bigger classes with fewer teachers.

"School systems are often strapped, and we think this would allow them to justify larger class sizes," said Jill Hinton Keel, executive director of the Autism Society of North Carolina.

DPI officials said they feel that school systems need more freedom to design special-ed classes. But with the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind, they said they doubt any school system would actually increase the size of the classes.

Keel said she agrees with the philosophy, but she expects unintended negative consequences.

The proposed changes to class size are part of a longer list of proposed changes state officials are considering.