URBANDALE, Iowa -- Instead of counting down the days to summer fun summer fun, some Urbandale parents like Nicole Schwegler are feeling frustrated. "I was hurt, I was angry, I was confused and I was mad," said the mother of three children within Urbandale Community School District.
A week ago Schwegler says the Urbandale CSD notified her that her fourth grade son Joey, who is autistic, will be forced to switch schools and attend Webster Elementary along with other level three special education students next school year. He's been here since Pre-K. He's grown up with these kids. This is our home," she said, referring to Rolling Green Elementary.
The district believes special education teachers currently are not able collaborate well enough to best serve the students. They responded saying
"Teacher collaboration directly supports better services and learning for students, which is why we determined a better long-term solution would be to more fully utilize the space at Webster elementary in order to welcome additional students with special needs, and their teachers, as it provides the greatest handicap-accessible areas and supports when compared to our other elementary buildings."
Schwegler responded saying, "Taking them away from their core family is not helping them. It doesn't matter what the teacher collaboration is."
Tiffany Vasquez-Dewein's daughter Brenna is a classmate of Joey's but is considered a level two special education student and will not have to move. She is having trouble understanding why her friend has to leave. Tiffany said, "She asked me if they were being punished because they learn differently and why she wasn't being punished."
Schwegler says throwing off a steady routine for Joey and other special ed students could be disastrous. "It takes two months of me prepping him for a fifteen minute hair cut. Kids on the spectrum need time to transition," said Schwegler.
The move impacts thirteen of the three hundred and thirty-one K-12 special education students within the district. "They are choosing to affect the thirteen most vulnerable kids in the school. He is getting set up for failure," said Schwegler.
A parent and student petition has been set up in hopes of holding the move off until the fall of 2019 to give the special education students more time to ease into the change. Siblings of the students moving have also been given the chance to transfer into Webster Elementary.