CCSD administrators adversarial with special education teachers

CCSD administrators adversarial with special education teachers
October 12 16:25 2017 Print This Article

Lowcountry Source recently published an article on the lack of staffing and classroom materials for Charleston County School District’s (CCSD) special needs classrooms. Another issue mentioned frequently by special education teachers and parents through emails, Facebook messages, and phone calls is the adversarial position CCSD administrators take when a parent or teacher expresses concerns. The default position seems to be to limit the expenses for the special education programs, regardless of the needs.

CCSD administrators are eliminating self-contained classes at the high school level. Self-contained classes are classes for students who have disabilities that prevent them from participating in the general curriculum either part or all of the day. In a self-contained class, the special education teacher uses a functional curriculum. This curriculum teaches them independent living and vocational skills that will help the students function in their day-to-day living as adults. Instead of receiving instruction in this curriculum, special education students are being mainstreamed into general education classes. One parent was outraged when her child with a second-grade reading level was mainstreamed into English 1 and Algebra 1 courses. The other students in the class know who the special needs students are and tease them. Teachers have complained to the CCSD administration. One teacher states, “My administrator has zero respect for my experience, expertise, or work ethic.” Instead of rectifying the situation, the administrator continues to add paperwork mandates for teachers to complete.

When self-contained classes are retained, the trend is to greatly increase the class sizes. Two self-contained classes each had 7 students. These students had feeding tubes, catheters, and wheelchairs. A CCSD administrator combined the two classes, so now one teacher is serving 14 students with physical needs that are very demanding.

Another issue facing teachers is the mainstreaming of emotionally disabled students. These students are usually the most difficult of the special education population to teach. They often exhibit inappropriate behavior that can be very disruptive in a classroom. In the past, emotionally disabled students who were violent were placed in self-contained classes with small numbers of students and an assistant. These students frequently have to be physically restrained. One teacher gives the example of an emotionally disabled student who broke a laptop and Smartboard in the classroom. Safety is a concern if these students are mainstreamed. They can be a danger to other students and teachers.

Lowcountry Source has heard from teachers that when an Individual Education Plan (IEP) team is convened and determines the services a student should receive, a CCSD administrator will override the IEP team decision and deny services. Federal law states that the IEP team has the final word in determining what is best for the student.

Teachers feel their concerns are being ignored and are afraid to speak out. CCSD has created disruptive and potentially dangerous situations. Lowcountry Source recommends that CCSD eliminate unnecessary and high-paid administrative positions and use the money to fund more teachers and classroom materials for special education.

Robin Steinberger retired after 30 years from Charleston County School District as a high school special education teacher. She is the education reporter for Lowcountry Source.  Please contact Robin at if you have tips to offer.  Your confidentiality will be maintained.

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  1. October 12, 17:34 #1 Kathy Roberson

    It is amazing to me how many teachers are afraid to speak out. The teachers are the ones with our kids all day. They should not have to be afraid to tell the truth. Sadly, they are, most of them. These are the people who look our kids in the eye. There is too much of my tax money hushing things on Calhoun Street while my child’s teacher has 23 special needs students. So why are they afraid? They are afraid they will lose their jobs or get “bad” evaluations. They are afraid they will get transferred or put on probation. They are afraid their school & their students will loses funding. They are are threatened with their job & told basically not to rock the boat. They are told to lie. And who tells them this? It’s not the principals. It is the group that meets at Magnolia’s. And they need more administrative assistance? This intimidation needs to cease.

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  2. October 12, 19:14 #2 Janet Price

    I was one of those scared teachers to speak out. When I did I went through the channels to make the system aware of what I was experiencing I was told I was right but they could or would not get involved… it was a “in house” school issue. I was a self- contained teacher in a Title 1 school with 28 years at the times and I bought out early to retire due to mega illegal issues done to me as well as students. Being the first teacher of the month for school district, teacher evaluator, and earning positive teacher observations didn’t mean a thing until I blew the whistle so to speak when I left mid year. This article is so accurate and CCSD should be held accountable for placing students who legally needs the placement of self-contained to be taught job and social skills… I am appalled to see what is happening and the state dept is allowing this to happen. I so hope action will be taken to have this population of students become successful.

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  3. October 12, 19:18 #3 Janet Price

    Please forgive grammar issues… I spoke from a he heart and idid not see typos and now see I was typing too fast and poor usage of grammar occurred.

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  4. October 21, 13:07 #4 April

    The only thing I have to say is Wrightslaw. What the school district is doing is illegal! Our students and the the teachers that are with them all day are suffering!

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