CPS School Board Candidates discuss special education with parents

1 month 1 week 3 days ago Wednesday, February 19 2020 Feb 19, 2020 Wednesday, February 19, 2020 2:04:00 PM CST February 19, 2020 in News
By: Grace Witham, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Columbia parents and candidates for the Columbia Board of Education met Wednesday to discuss special education.

This gave parents a chance to ask any questions about their children with special needs as well as their education.

The terms of two current school board members will expire next month. Jonathan Sessions and Helen Wade are running for another term. Wade currently serves as the board's President with Sessions as Vice President.

Chris Horn and David Seamon are also running. Out of the four candidates, there are only three open spots that need to be filled.

Horn and Seamon have never been on the Columbia Board of Education. They both said that they would like to see changes in disciplinary actions taken against special needs students.

"There is a big disparity in disciplinary actions to our underrepresented students, particularly those who have special needs and that are in our special education programs. We really got to see that closed. In order to do that, we really have to foster a truly inclusive environment," Horn said.

"I'd like to see some more inclusiveness. Right now we're bussing a lot of our special eds kids to other schools, away from their home schools. That takes them away from their friends and some cases, their siblings who go to those schools. It doesn't really set them up for success in the future," Seamon said.

CoMO SEPTA, the special education PTA, hosted the event.

According to its website, CoMO SEPTA is, "a group intended to bring together those who support and celebrate the students who access special education services."

"We want to educate both our families on issues affecting Columbia Public Schools and also the candidates on special education issues," the group's treasurer Tara Arnett said.

"We want our students treated just like the rest of the students in our district. We want equity across the district," said Arnett. "We just want our kids to be the same. So, that is our goal."

The CPS School Board election will take place on April 7.

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