Special ed soars in N. Colonie

North Colonie school officials focused on special education and special needs students in the second session of an in-house audit on Monday, Jan. 4.

At the meeting, Dave Semo, director of pupil personnel services, said 74 percent of special education students in the district graduated with a regents or advanced regents diploma, well above the 30-40 percent statewide average.

There is much to be proud of in our special education program, said Superintendent Randy Ehrenberg.

Ehrenberg said the Reach and Rise programs that are new to the high school and junior high school are also progressing well. They are designed to provide support and staff for students who are "falling through the cracks."

A large part of the evaluation is to determine what is financially prudent for the district, Ehrenberg said.

She said it is often less expensive to keep special needs students in the district and outsourcing special education takes away control of how much programs cost.

"We're always in a mode of evaluating and looking," she said.

Ehrenberg said that the annual evaluation of the district's programs has gone on for decades and involves the administration and the board of education, which is provided with copies of the evaluation and invited to bring questions to the meetings.

Questions about the district's psychologists, child abuse statistics and enrichment programs were prevalent from board members.

Reports of child abuse have doubled since 2006-2007, although there were no figures on if those reports were founded and verified.

"It's better we catch more," said Semo.

He said the districts counselors stay involved with the families and there are not many cases of repeat reports.

The last scheduled meeting to discuss the annual evaluation is set for Jan. 11 in the Shaker High School main conference room, located on the second floor. The meetings are open to the public.


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