ISD restructuring will impact special needs students

A restructuring of special-education services next fall will initially have an impact on about 54 St. Joseph County students, close a White Pigeon special needs classroom and begin changing the way the county looks at serving its adult students.
Aubree Spencer, principal at the ISD’s special education school Pathfinder Center, said she predicts up to 30 percent of current students with special needs could be ready to leave classrooms for more independent living before reaching age 26, the legal maximum age for publicly financed special education.
The key, Spencer said, is a restructuring that begins this fall designed to group students more by age and ability levels than by the overall type of physical or mental challenges they have.
About half of the county’s 108 special-education students will move to new sites beginning in the fall, meaning some may not stay in their local communities for services.
But Spencer argued the changes are designed to restructure programs for specific impairments that had, for example, a range of abilities in ages in one setting, to assigning students to the least restrictive program for their age group.

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