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Monroe Local Schools New Emotionally Disturbed Unit
Tuesday, May 18, 2010 10:38:58 AM - Monroe Ohio

by John Beagle

Recently, I interviewed Dr. Deborah Witt-Turner, Director of Special Programs, Monroe Local Schools about Monroe's new ED (Emotionally Disturbed) unit.

Photo: Dr. Deborah Witt-Turner

 

Very few schools in the United States have such a unit, but one school in Wapakoneta, Ohio has such a program along with the goals of the program. Here is what they state as the goal:

"The goal of the ED program is to provide behavioral and curricular remediation to the maximum extent possible, enabling the student to become self-sufficient and to participate in a more normalized setting. This goal is accomplished through an intensive, highly individualized program utilizing a variety of behavioral, cognitive, and affective techniques and implemented by trained, experienced teachers and support staff to bring about measurable academic, social, and behavioral change. The students progress through the program will be clearly identifiable, and his or her removal from the program will always occur at the earliest possible date once the terminal behavior(s) have been accomplished. The program design provides a blend of educational and mental health strategies and supports to ensure comprehensive curriculum to meet the social, emotional and academic needs of each student"

Julie Howell was hired as a non certificated Paraprofessional at Monroe schools. She is resigning that position to take a new position titled, Elementary Emotional Disturbed Unit and will be working alongside Dr. Witt-Turner.

Beagle: Will Julie Howell be working with you or for you?
Witt-Turner: Julie Howell has been hired for an elementary position and will therefore report to Mrs. Shull.

Beagle: When was the ED classroom created?
Witt-Turner: Information regarding the need to hire an ED teacher at the elementary level was presented to the board of education in February.

Beagle: So prior to this year, we did not have an ED unit? Is that correct?
Witt-Turner: Prior to this year we did not have a traditional ED classroom. Last year we had a number of students at the primary that were identified with behavioral issues, primarily due to autism spectrum related needs, and transitioned one of our intervention specialists into a Social Communication classroom to work with these students.

Beagle: How many students do you serve?
Witt-Turner: According to ODE caseload ratios, an Intervention Specialist may serve up to 10 students identified with an emotional disturbance during an instructional period.

Beagle: How many people work in the ED unit?
Witt-Turner: One licensed intervention specialist and one paraprofessional will support students in the ED classroom.

Beagle: How does a child ‘qualify to be in the ED unit?
Witt-Turner: Students identified with emotional or behavioral needs and who qualify for special education services may be placed in the ED classroom if their IEP teams determines that to be the most appropriate placement for them. ODE and federal law require that districts provide a continuum of services to meet the educational needs of students with disabilities. A student's IEP team must identify the least restrictive environment in which a student can be successful with appropriate supports. Obviously this type of classroom is more restrictive, so the student’s IEP team must have documentation of a variety of attempted strategies and interventions that have not been successful prior to initiating a placement in the ED classroom.

Beagle: Do you have examples of success?
Witt-Turner: If you’re asking for examples of success from past experience, I would share that I have taught in an alternative school, been a behavioral consultant, and supervised other special education programs where students identified as Emotionally Disturbed have been placed in an ED classroom. In all of these roles I have seen children learn to self-regulate their own behaviors, learn coping strategies and social skills, develop more confidence and self-esteem, and in general be more successful academically because of the supports provided to them.

Beagle: Do all 3 Monroe schools have someone in this position?
Witt-Turner: While each building has specialized classrooms, we do not have an ED classroom in each of the buildings at this time as the needs of the students have not warranted it. Monroe continues to offer a full continuum of services, and will continue to develop programs and establish agency relationships based on the needs of our students.

Discuss this on The Voice: Monroe Elementary Emotional Disturbed Unit

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