CPS Board of Education contract renewal

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools' decided Monday night to push the contract renewal for a controversial company involving special education services.

During the board meeting, dozens of parents attended the meeting, with a few voicing their concerns about re-upping the contract.

According to the contract, CPS has a contract with Catapult Learning and Specialized Education of Missouri, Inc. (SESI) for nearly $1 million for special education services for select CPS students.

Tonight, the board discussed if it should allocate more money to the services in order to hire more paraprofessionals. 

"I just want to make sure that we have correct oversight in the hiring of that PARA and who gets to determine how many PARAs... those kinds of questions," parent Robyn Schelp said. 

She said she is worried about transparency. In August, CPS and Catapult Learning fell under scrutiny for keeping students in "time-out" rooms at the Center of Responsive Education (CORE).

A spokesperson for CPS has said the rooms are under the authority of the SESI and Catapult Learning - not CPS. 

"What my concern is they're actually in a CPS building," Schelp said. "That's where a lot of the lines get fuzzy."

Robyn has three boys. One of her children, Nate, has an unknown genetic condition.

Schelp said Nate used to go to school full-time but now only attends reading classes at Jefferson Middle School. 

She said the seclusion rooms have opened a new conversation about the transparency of the district. 

"I understand this isn't an easy fix - these children are going through that program because they haven't been successful in their classrooms," she said. "I recognize this isn't easy for the parents, for the teachers, for the students, for anybody."

KOMU 8 reached out to both CPS and Catapult Learning on Monday. We have yet to receive a response.

CPS decided to push the contract renewal issue to a later date, but it didn't specify when.