cities · Inclusion · Massachusetts · Neurodiversity · Public education

Parent activism for inclusive Northampton schools

It’s been a challenging roll-out of the new co-teaching inclusion WINS model in the first grade at Bridge Street School in Northampton Public Schools. (WINS = Welcoming Inclusion in Northampton Schools).  The Daily Hampshire Gazette covered our parent activism:

Brody said that beginning this school year, she and other first-grade parents and guardians started “swapping horror stories” — crowded classrooms, excessive noise and commotion, teachers seemingly stretched thin. They first started exchanging those concerns after school, and then over email as more joined in.

That email group now includes well over half of the school’s first-grade families, according to Brody, all of whom are concerned about the rollout of a new plan this year to place students receiving special education services into mainstream classrooms instead of being separated based on their needs. That plan led to the elimination of 19 educational support positions, and the addition of 5.5 special education teachers and one general education teacher. The two resulting first-grade classrooms, some parents say, have been disorderly at best.

Both classrooms now have a third staff person, a behaviorist in the larger classroom and a paraprofessional in the smaller one.  More improvement is needed, but things have stabilized.  Stay tuned for more coverage of our efforts!

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