Are Special Needs Being Met In School?

By: Jennifer Rogers
By: Jennifer Rogers

Washoe County has more than 7,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade who are learning disabled. In many Reno classroom's there is only one teacher for a dozen special needs children.

Today I met with one family who say their child's needs aren't being met because of the high student to teacher ratio.

This may look like a normal family event for the Potter's. But look closer - it's not.

Jennifer and Rick's son, Aaron, who has Down Syndrome should be in school. They decided to keep him at home until they meet with their attorney.

"The idea of him going back to a school that won't take care of his special needs and he gets killed, kidnapped, or lost and that scares me to death,." says Jennifer.

She is still upset after she picked her son up from Donner Springs School on Thursday and found him wondering around the parking lot by himself.

Aaron is 10-years-old, but Down Syndrome has left him with the mental capacity of a three year old. His parents say special needs are not being met and they blame lack of supervision. "When we drop our children off we are dropping them in their care,"

Jennifer says Aaron's class has 11 children with special needs, one teacher, and sometimes two aides.

But she wonders if that's really enough?

Administrators at the Washoe County School District say it is.

"State laws prescribes a certain number of students per classroom due to the disability involved,." says Doug Whitener, the Director of Student Support.

According to the law, Aaron's classroom situation is legal. Whitener says every year each student meets with a group of specialists to determine their individual education program.

But the Potter's say that's not enough if their son can leave school unnoticed all by himself. "I just want something done. My son is suffering from it," Jennifer says.

Administrators say they only want what's best for the students - just like the parents.

Administrators wouldn't comment about Aaron's specific situation, but the did say the matter is under investigation.


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