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An Organization of Their Own

Posted on 19 February 2010

Sag Harbor, arguably, has the highest percentage of classified special education students of any school district in the area. It is therefore little surprise that a local parent was the one who decided it was time for mothers and fathers of special ed students to have their own Parent Teachers Association.

In Sag Harbor, about 15 percent of the students are classified for special education. It should be noted that Sag Harbor does have a comparatively high rate of classified students, and, over the years, the district nurtured a reputation for helping those students who required special education. But all local districts, along with Sag Harbor, regularly wrestle with the changing diagnoses and classifications for special education students.

And there is a wide range of students with a wide range of disabilities: from those who have difficulty hearing and need to be placed close to the front of the room to those who are profoundly reading disabled to those who cannot learn in a conventional classroom and must be placed in classrooms in other learning environments.

The challenges for the student and the teacher are daunting. For the parent, those challenges can be confusing and worrisome.

Navigating the world of special education for the uninitiated is full of terminology and practices that, at first blush, are disconcerting and possibly frightening. The advantage of having a PTA dedicated to those parents struggling with special education issues is they will be able to share with other parents who may have similar problems and to work through those problems together. Also, this gives the parent and the teacher an opportunity to meet and discuss issues in a more relaxed and informal way.

Special education or handicapped students are entitled to the same benefits and quality of education as non-handicapped students. We’re happy to see their parents will now be getting the benefit of their own organization.

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