USD 232 to create special education council
By Ashlee Kieler
Although the relationship between the De Soto USD 232 Special Services Department and patrons has had its ups-and-downs, the district is focused on improving those ties with its new Special Education Parent Advisory Council.
“It’s a council for parents of students in special education,” said Joan Robbins, director of special services. “In Kansas, special education included any child that has an exceptionality.”
The council will serve several purposes, Robbins said.
“It will give information to parents about different programs and services we have,” she said. “It will answer any questions they might have about special education in general. The council members also will serve as liaisons to their school community and help other parents understand the services. The council will build a network of support for our families.”
The council will have two parent representatives from each school, including Countryside Learning Center. The parents will represent families from many disability areas, Robbins said.
“I want to the council to be formed where there is a representative of children with and without disabilities and those who are gifted,” she said.
The council will include integration supervisors and teacher representatives from each building.
“I think it will be about forming a partnership with the district and community in both directions, so that families understand the services that are in the district and that we hear from families what is important to them and how we can do a better job,” she said.
Before joining De Soto USD 232 this summer, Robbins worked in a similar capacity in the Blue Valley School District, where a similar council existed.
“In Blue Valley, that council formed subcommittees and brought in speakers and held programs for all parents,” she said. “I think those are positive concepts for the De Soto council to explore but I also want this council to develop in a what that is best for De Soto.”
While the council will be means for parents to gather information and voice concern, the council must respect the confidentiality of students and parents, Robbins said.
“People just have to understand what is the best forum to have their concerns addressed on a specific or personal level, but I do want to know what concerns families have,” she said.
The council was one of Robbins’ top priorities when she started at De Soto.
“I know this is something the community members have been interested in,” she said. “When I started here, I knew I wanted to form a council. Even before I was able to get my plans together I received e-mails from a couple people. It’s a great thing for our community and our district.”
Robbins anticipates the council will meet every other month and include about 46 members.
An informational meeting about the council will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the District Administrative Building, 35200 W. 91st St. in De Soto.
For questions or more information contact Robbins at firstname.lastname@example.org.