Forum to focus on giving pupils extra help

Monday, February 21, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:17 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Parents of students in the Columbia Public Schools are invited to meet with members of the special education department to discuss the Individual Education Plan process.

The process is aimed at assisting children who need extra attention in the classroom.

Depending on a child’s diagnosis, the Individual Education Plan can provide extra test time and even paraprofessionals to assist in the classroom, said Nathan Stephens, a spokesman for the First Ward Ambassadors.

The district works with the children on an individual basis because they want each child to have the opportunity to be successful, Stephens said.

As of Dec. 1 there were 2,318 students — kindergarteners through students age 21 — enrolled in the Columbia Public Schools IEP program, according to Rhonda Lebron, secretary in the special education department.

The district’s 2004-05 budget allocated more than $15.5 million for special education.

First Ward members organized the meeting after receiving concerns from parents in regards to the IEP process.

The purpose of the meeting is to give parents the opportunity to get questions answered, as well as to set follow-up meetings with school officials, according to a press release.

The special education department for Columbia Public Schools will be presenting information at the forum.

The forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at St. Luke United Methodist Church, 204 E. Ash St.

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