Inside INdiana Business

Gary Schools regains special ed services control

(Dated: Jan. 2020) Inside a classroom in Gary before the pandemic. (courtesy: Gary School Corp. Facebook)

GARY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Gary Community School Corp. has regained control of its special education services after eight years. The district had been operating under special conditions from the Indiana Department of Education to achieve compliance with state and federal special education regulations.

The IDOE imposed the special conditions in the 2012 fiscal year “to ensure students are being evaluated and placed in the least restrictive environment.” The district says it was informed last week that it has “met all requirements” to lift the special conditions.

“This milestone is the result of a lot of hard work from teachers and administrators to give students the services they need to support their learning,” GCSC Manager Dr. Paige McNulty said in a news release. “This is a milestone, not a finish line, and we have much more work to do, but I’m proud of our team’s achievement and what it means for our students.”

According to the IDOE, about 15% of GCSC students identified as students with disabilities in the 2020-21 academic year.

“There is a lot of talk these days about equity; well, this is what equity looks like, when all students get what they need,” McNulty said. “We are laser-focused on improving academic outcomes, and ensuring all students get appropriately evaluated and receive the services they deserve is a key step forward in our ongoing work to advance student learning.”

In August 2020, the district unveiled its two-year plan, The Path Forward, designed to improve academics, engagement, fiscal matters, and operations. In addition to the ruling from the IDOE, McNulty says the district has achieved other milestones, including the creation of new Career and Technical Education pathways in auto mechanics and horticulture, increased training opportunities for school-based staff and families, and a 21% decrease in findings on state and federal audits from the last several years.

“Over the last few years, we have made tremendous progress in stabilizing our budget, and the next mountain for us to climb is academics,” said McNulty. “While we have much more to accomplish, today’s announcement is an encouraging reminder of the gains we are making.”

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