Bexley News

Bexley Board of Education

Parents advocate for special education support

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Mike Haynes, an engineer, father and Bexley resident, knows all about dyslexia.

His grandfather was affected by it, along with his father, himself and his daughter, who now attends Bexley schools.

Haynes attended the June 23 regular school board meeting to voice his displeasure over the district's handling of his daughter's condition. A small group of parents waited in the audience as a support system. They, too, say they have complaints with the special education department's lack of support.

"We have hit wall after wall," said Haynes in a 20-minute, emotional plea to the board. "Every step has been a battle."

Dyslexia is a specific kind of reading disorder in which children have difficulty learning to "decode," or read words by associating sounds and letters or letter combinations. According to research, up to 17 percent of the country's population is affected by the condition.

Haynes said the district did little to diagnose his daughter and get her the help she needed to succeed. Despite receiving lower marks on her report card, teacher comments, he said, continued to praise her, adding that more help was needed at home.

After having his daughter evaluated and diagnosed with dyslexia at Ohio State University, he thought things would improve within the district. But Haynes said he was wrong.

"Their needs (those special education plans within the district) simply have not been met," said Haynes.

He said he has high hopes that the district's new special education director, Samantha McMasters, will do more to improve the situation.

"I will say this is not the first time I've heard complaints," said board President Marlee Snowdon, in response to Haynes' remarks. "It's our sincere hope and desire that we will start turning this around."

In other business, board members approved a unique art project planned for Montrose Elementary School. Called the INSIDE OUT Project, the work is based on internationally known artist JR, who has used black-and-white portraits as a global participatory art project in order to bring about world change.

Inspired by the artist's large-format street "pastings," INSIDE OUT gives groups the opportunity to share their portrait and make a statement about what they stand for.

Montrose has chosen the theme Power Through Play, and plans to hang some 225 black-and-white posters of students and adults on three sides of the exterior gym walls as part of the project -- which they say goes hand-in-hand with their new playground.

"We thought it would have a great impact," said Emily Reiser, an art teacher at Montrose. "It's a really great way to get people to talk about art."

The project received approval from the city, and will be displayed for one year before requiring further approval for an extension.

The project, which is expected to cost about $1,000, will be funded through the school's Parent Teacher Organization.

Reiser hopes to have it up and ready for the start of the new school year.

Also at last week's monthly board meeting, Superintendent Mike Johnson reviewed the state's new graduation requirements and previewed changes to the state's new report card -- both of which can be found at education.ohio.gov.

The board also approved a new Ohio Association of Public School Employees contract with Local No. 123 effective July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2017.

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