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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Hillsborough ESE parents can ask to be in focus groups



In the interest of transparency, the Hillsborough County school district is opening up the selection of parent focus groups about exceptional student education.

As part of a broader effort to improve safety in ESE, the district has been organizing focus groups of staff and parents. Critics in recent weeks accused the district of selecting parents who might be friendly to the district as opposed to those who have voiced complaints about issues including supervision and inclusion. Terry Kemple, a community activist and school board candidate, suggested a lottery during the July 30 meeting.

"We feel like the lottery is not a bad idea," Assistant Superintendent George Gaffney said Tuesday morning. An automated ParentLink call will go out to ESE parents, inviting them to take part.

There was some discussion at the board meeting. Chairwoman April Griffin asked if, in addition, each board member could nominate two parents or community members. Member Candy Olson said there should be an opportunity to add parents at schools where concerns have been raised, to make sure those schools are represented; and to include the parents of non-disabled students, who also are affected by ESE programs.

Member Doretha Edgecomb cautioned against allowing the groups to become too large and unwieldy. "I just want to make sure that they are relevant, that we have the right participants and that it's a manageable size," she said.

Kemple was pleased with the news, nonetheless. "It's kind of rewarding that what we say up here is actually heard," he said.

[Last modified: Sunday, August 18, 2013 5:40pm]


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