By Keith Brandstetter
Waterford Union High School
In the past month and a half, there has been much discussion regarding the operation of special education in the Waterford Area Schools. I would like to provide a brief history of special education to the Waterford area.
In 1975, the federal government mandated that all public school districts must educate students with disabilities. The 11 school districts in western Racine County combined to form the Racine County School Office (RSCO), which provided the services to students with disabilities who lived west of I-94.
In June of 2003, the Racine County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution that transferred the Students with Disabilities Program from a Racine County operation to that of the local school districts.
School districts were allowed a total of three years for planning and transition. An outside consultant conducted a study and examined various methods of operation; he then recommended two options.
One was to use the CESA model as the administrative body. The other recommendation was for all of the Waterford districts to form their own cooperative.
The five Waterford school districts (Drought, North Cape, Washington-Caldwell, Waterford Graded and Waterford Union High School) decided to form a cooperative and started the planning process. After two years of planning, Waterford Graded made the decision to change direction and not join the cooperative. The district decided to operate its own special education program. The other four districts did form a cooperative, the Waterford Special Education Cooperative (WSEC), which began officially on July 1, 2006.
The operational design of the Waterford Special Education Cooperative provides the school districts with the leadership and related services for their special education program. This includes a special education director as well as speech and language teachers, counseling, occupational and physical therapists, and psychological services provided by specially trained professionals.
In addition, the cooperative also has an intervention specialist who provides guidance and instruction to the teaching staff through best practices for special education students.
Each school district is responsible for the hiring of special education teachers and educational assistants who work directly in their schools.
In the summer of 2007, Waterford Graded inquired about joining the Waterford Special Education Cooperative. The four districts of the cooperative were willing to allow Waterford Graded to become a member on July 1, 2008.
In the fall of 2011, Drought School withdrew from the Early Childhood Program since they did not have any students in the program. This school year, Drought also withdrew from the WSEC because of very low numbers of special education students in their school.
In mid-September Waterford Union High School received preliminary notice from Waterford Graded School District that it would be leaving the cooperative effective July 1, 2014. As a result of this action, the Waterford Union High School Board of Education requested a meeting with all of the school districts belonging to the Waterford Special Education Cooperative.
The purpose of this meeting is to listen to input from the parents, community, and staff regarding the operation of the Waterford Special Education Cooperative and to have a general discussion among the school boards of the cooperative.
This meeting will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m., in the Large Group Instructional Room at Waterford Union High School.