1. The Education Gradebook

Training starting for special-ed workers in Hillsborough

Published Jun. 14, 2013

TAMPA — With the school year over, the Hillsborough County school district is working on staff training to improve safety in exceptional student education.

The training, recommended by a district work group after two student deaths in 2012, will involve paraprofessionals — formerly known as aides and attendants — and bus drivers.

Paraprofessionals are being given a choice of two half-day sessions at Jefferson High School on Aug. 14, and at Spoto High School on Aug. 15. Nancy French, a national expert in paraprofessional training, will speak at the sessions.

The district is on target to use its most experienced ESE bus drivers for the summer routes, according to a memo by assistant superintendent Jeff Eakins. Some ESE students attend school year-round.

Drivers and bus aides are receiving "red alert" training that instructs them in their students' medical conditions. The district also is working to standardize the way it circulates information about emergency incidents, having come under criticism when most School Board members did not know about a child's death until her parents filed a lawsuit nine months later.

The plan calls for messages to be distributed to school officials through ParentLink, the system that delivers automated phone messages to parents.

In early July, the district will arrange focus group sessions to get more input from teachers and administrators, parents and students about ESE.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or


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