Hazelwood Parents Express Concerns to the Special School District of North County
Local parents seek answers to questions about their children progressing from one grade to the next at a transitions workshop Jan. 12.
Stacy Young’s son, Frank Arrington, will be entering Hazelwood West Middle School in the fall. Like many parents, she is concerned about the transition he will make from elementary to middle school. Will he be able to find his locker and remember the combination? How will he adjust to the block schedule, alternating between “A” and “B” days? These issues are particularly pressing for Young and other parents of special needs students.
The Hazelwood Parent Advisory Council and the Special School District of St. Louis County hosted the workshop at the Hazelwood Learning Center to answer these questions. It was open to parents of students with educational disabilities from early childhood through twelfth grade.
Mickey Hughes, the area coordinator for transitions from elementary school to middle school, addressed Young’s concerns. Hughes explained that the school district works to make each student’s transition as smooth as possible.
“We want to encourage parent involvement and gain ideas from all of you," she said. "Your presence at our transition meetings is so vital, because you are the ones who know your children best."
For transitions—from early childhood to kindergarten and elementary school, middle school, and high school—an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is developed. The IEP is created during a meeting that typically includes the student and a parent or guardian, a counselor from the school the student will be attending, a special education teacher, a case manager, an occupational therapist and additional aides.
Often, there are between 10 and 15 people at transition meetings, which some feel can be intimidating. Parents were reminded, however, that all of these people are there to help their child. IEPs are re-evaluated on an annual basis, and often modified and adapted.
Teri McCoubrie, whose 9-year-old son Collin is autistic, attended the event as well. McCoubrie is part of Hazelwood’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC), which collaborates with the school district by meeting with administration every other month to discuss ideas and hot topics among parents of children with various disabilities. Transitioning, McCoubrie said, was a topic recently brought to the school district’s attention.
“I’m here with several other PAC parents tonight,” she said. “We’re looking forward to observing and gathering information on this important subject.”
Connie Leonard, who works for The Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis and another member of PAC, brought her son Dan Leonard to the meeting because she thought it would be interesting for him. Dan, who has Down Syndrome, is currently a sophomore at Hazelwood West High School.
Jill Karr, director of the Special School District, said that anxiety is experienced by kids with special needs as well as their parents, when it comes time to transition to a new school.
“The purpose of tonight’s workshop is to offer parents information on the resources available to them and their children," she said. "We want to ease their concerns and answer their questions."
To find out when additional meetings like this one will be held, be sure to check out Hazelwood Patch’s calendar of events section.