Members of a new parent group say they want to work with the Bexley Board of Education and district administrators to improve special-education services for students.

Bexley Education Stronger Together is a group of about 60 families that began meeting in early June. The group includes parents who feel the district can better meet the needs of students with individual education programs that are supposed to help them overcome disabilities and other challenges to learning, said David Tetzloff, the group's co-chairman.

"A lot of the impetus came from a concern with how our children's IEPs were being handled and how our children were being identified for special education," Tetzloff said.

Tetzloff, who has a daughter with an IEP, and other BEST members attended the board of education's July 10 meeting, with Tetzloff addressing the board on the group's behalf. He said the group hopes to work with Samantha McMasters, the district's director of special education, and Superintendent Kimberly Miller, who was scheduled to officially join the district Aug. 1.

Tetzloff said the group is compiling a list of issues to address with Miller, with hopes of meeting with her before Labor Day.

"We're not looking to be confrontational," Tetzloff said. "This should be a positive, collaborative effort between the parents and the administration to improve the district."

Board president Melissa Lacroix said she and other board members met with Tetzloff and other BEST representatives before the July 10 meeting in order to hear their concerns. BEST is employing a constructive approach that will facilitate a positive dialogue between parents and the district on how to best serve students with special needs, Lacroix said.

"I think their mission statement is truly in line with our district's goals. They're not asking for something we shouldn't be providing. No matter how good we are, there is always room for improvement," Lacroix said.

"The main thing I appreciate about this group is their collaborative approach -- 'Let's work together, let's prioritize the issues,' " she said.

Many of the parents who helped form BEST took an active role during the district's superintendent search earlier this year, which demonstrates their commitment to the district, Lacroix said.

"They came to all the meetings, they came to all the interviews (for the superintendent candidates). That, to me, shows they're here for the future of our district and not just a select issue," Lacroix said.

"They're very 'big picture' people, and I respect that, and I appreciate their willingness to collaborate. Their whole focus is, 'Let's work together.' Their actions speak louder than their words. We're going to move forward together," she said.

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