Parents, teachers, students, administrators and all those interested are invited to a public forum tomorrow night to discuss special education in Warwick.
The forum, called for by Councilman Ed Ladouceur, will take place at 6:30 p.m. at City Council chambers. The Warwick Community Outreach Education Committee will be in attendance.
Ladouceur said there is “good reason for people to be concerned” about special education in the city. Teachers and parents have spoken extensively on the issue at school committee meetings, saying secondary consolidation has caused class sizes to balloon to 28. Many teachers said they’ve struggled to meet the needs of their students with IEPs because of the large numbers. Some have even said they have either no special educators in their classrooms or no common planning time with their special educators.
However, there may be more issues that have not yet been brought to light. Ladouceur said many parents and teachers have told him they’re afraid to speak up as they fear retaliation.
“That concerns me terribly,” he said.
Thus, Ladouceur’s goal for the forum is to give the public the security of coming to the mic without retaliation, he said. He said he’s also invited members of both school and city administration to attend. Superintendent Philip Thornton’s office could not confirm whether he planned to attend, but indicated that the event is on his schedule. School Committee Vice Chair Eugene Nadeau said he wants to attend as he typically attends meetings at City Hall, but is unable due to other obligations in his schedule. School Committee Member Karen Bachus is co-chair of the Warwick Community Outreach Education Committee, and will be in attendance. Ladouceur said City Council President Donna Travis will also be there and heard Councilwomen Camille Vella-Wilkinson and Kathleen Usler hope to attend.
“We want everyone there to hear what parents, teachers, and students have to say,” Ladouceur said.
The forum will be entirely open mic and focus only on special education. Attendees are welcome to share both positive and negative feedback.