Minneapolis Board of Education not voting on autism program changes

Minneapolis Public Schools clarified on Wednesday that its citywide, parent-contested autism program is not up for a vote by the Board of Education. The Board listened to families during a public comments section of their Tuesday meeting, but there will not be a vote.

"Rather, public comment is a standing invitation from the board to listen to constituents' concerns and considerations on all matters related to Minneapolis Public Schools," the district said in a news release.

MORE - Parents concerned over autism resource shift

There will be a reallocation of funds from the autism program to community schools so more students with mild autism can receive special education support by trained professionals.

Minneapolis Public Schools have a certain number of schools with autism programs in which several experts are always on-hand as well as special education assistants. According to the district, the plan is to start providing services for mildly autistic students at all community schools, which shifts some of the resources from the current program to a larger number of schools.

Parents are concerned there aren't enough experts to disseminate among all schools. In addition, some schools might have just one or two children on the autism spectrum, which singles them out, they said. Some parents plan to address the school board next week and say they wish their opinions had been heard before the decision was made.

The district clarified that the program isn't closing, but rather, 3 citywide classrooms have been closed to redistribute the resources. The changes don't affect the placement of any student attending the citywide autism program.

"The needs of incoming kindergartners for fall 2015 have been assessed through their Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) to determine whether they will be best served through a citywide or community school. IEPs are developed in collaboration with parents, teachers and educational staff to ensure the individual needs of each child are taken into consideration," the district said.

Of the 49 incoming kindergarteners with autism, 23 students will be going to their community school as part of the change and 26 are going to citywide autism program.

The district said no board vote will take place regarding the change, as it does not affect board policy.

No board vote measure has or will take place on this program change as it doesn't affect board policy, the district clarified.

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