Education

Aug 13, 2014 4:03 PM by KATC

BESE approves policies to broaden opportunities for students with disabilities

During its regular meeting Wednesday, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved new policies to expand promotion and graduation opportunities for special education students, authorized the continuation of the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) Task Force, recognized top state teachers, and approved several charter school applications.meeting.

"Today's policy decisions related to special education provide rules to guide the Individualized Education Program (IEP) advisory teams of certain students in identifying the need for an alternate path to graduation, and how to assess academic progress. Act 833 (HB 1015) of the 2014 Legislative Session necessitated revisions to current BESE rules in order to provide for alternate promotion and graduation pathways for some students with disabilities. The law provides a special education student's IEP team with new authority in certain situations to develop a specific graduation pathway for students," a release from the board explained.

BESE President Chas Roemer said that today's actions demonstrate the board's intentions.

"BESE is committed to serving every student in our state," said Chas Roemer, BESE president. "We are hopeful that these policies will lead to positive outcomes for students."

While the measures establish the option of alternate promotion and graduation criteria for certain special education students, proficiency levels must still be met. IEP teams are required to identify rigorous goals for students, develop intensive instructional programs, determine whether students are required to pass state assessments and, if necessary, determine how students must demonstrate proficiency in order to graduate.

The Board also authorized the reconvening of the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) Task Force in the fall of 2014. The MFP Task Force will be comprised of legislators, school board members, superintendents, teachers, parents, and community and education organizations, and will offer guidance on how best to improve the formula to most equitably and effectively fund schools and students.

The task force will be chaired by BESE member Jay Guillot of Ruston and will meet in Baton Rouge on September 24, October 16, November 18 and December 16, 2014. Recommendations to BESE for the 2015-16 MFP formula will be determined at the final task force meeting. Topics to be considered include special education, early childhood education and student count methodology.

The Board also recognized Ms. Carla Jackson, the 2015 Louisiana Teacher of the Year. Ms. Jackson is a third grade teacher at Bains Elementary in West Feliciana Parish. As Teacher of the Year, Ms. Jackson will serve on BESE's Educator Effectiveness Committee for the 2014-15 school year. The Board also recognized 2014 Teacher of the Year Ms. La'Keisha McKinney for her service over the past year.

"These teachers are model ambassadors, representing the outstanding contributions of Louisiana educators and their dedication to help students succeed," said Holly Boffy, BESE secretary-treasurer. "We appreciate the willingness of Ms. Jackson and Ms. McKinney to serve and provide their perspectives to the Board to positively impact the growth of teachers and students."

In other Board action, several Type 2 and Type 5 charter school applications were considered for approval. A Type 2 charter school is a new startup or converted school, while a Type 5 is a pre-existing school under the jurisdiction of the Recovery School District (RSD).

Approvals included up to 14 new schools in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Caddo Parish and Tangipahoa Parish. The Tangipahoa Charter School Association was approved for a Type 2 school serving grades K-8. Type 5 charter approvals included: Algiers Charter School Association (three schools serving grades K-8 and one each serving 6-8, 6-12 and 9-12); Baton Rouge Bridge Academy (one school serving K-8); Baton Rouge College Prep (one school serving 5-12); Community Leaders Advocating Student Success (one school serving K-8); Crescent City Schools (one school serving K-8); Foundation Preparatory Charter School (one school serving K-5); and New Orleans Preparatory Academies (two schools serving K-8).

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