Recommendations to improve special education at LPS

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LINCOLN, Neb. - Nearly 15% of all students in Lincoln Public Schools get special education services. Parents and LPS board members got snapshot of what the district's doing well and needs to improve on for those 5400 students.

The purpose of the audit is to get a better understanding of the current LPS special needs program. The district used an outside consulting firm which talked to teachers, and families of students in the program. Mixed the interviews with established data and this is what they found.

Three of the positive highlights include LPS has a commitment to inclusion, and serves almost all of the students in need within the district. For the most part the schools are well staffed to help struggling students. And the special education leadership is passionate and highly invested.

But there are opportunities to improve. LPS needs to give extra time for students who need it. The district should develop a model for all LPS schools to use. And the district can better manage the current staff to make sure every teacher is trained, and their time is being used efficiently.

Vicki Depenbusch has a son who gets special education services at LPS, she said this report was spot on with how she feels.

"I think it is everything parents had concerns about, or saw the gaps, and that was brought out tonight and brought out very detailed, and had the numbers to back it up, and I hope the board takes that into consideration in moving forward," said Depenbusch.

Administrators said they are looking to improve.

"Now the things we are going to need to do is dig a little bit deeper, rethink some of our processes, look for ways to be more efficient and more effective, and better deliver our services to some of our neediest children," said Don Mayhew, president of the school board.

Nate Levenson, the man in charge of the research, said LPS is poised to go to the next level, but it must be a slow and steady journey because anything rushed could backfire.

The board is meeting again Tuesday at 4:30 at the district office to talk more about the report.

Here is a link to check out the full report: https://meeting.Nasbonline.Org/public/meeting.Aspx?Publicagencyid=4365&publicmeetingid=13733&agencytypeid=