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Sutherland for Schools blog

Here are the Special Ed positions, as requested.

by Ann Sutherland on 10/09/18

Dr. Sheffield responds to the request on the number of classroom teachers:

Sixty (60) % of the positions are classroom Teachers and Teacher Assistants’ positions, assigned  mostly  to self-contained Special Education classrooms on regular campuses  across the district.  The remaining forty (40) % of the positions are positions for specialized staff (Evaluators, therapists, vocational and behavioral specialists) who provide services directly to Special Education students as written in their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). As you are well aware, many Special Education students need more than just Teachers and Teacher Assistants; they also need specialized personnel to meet their various needs.

Thanks to Dr. Sheffield for providing this iformation.  

As of Sep 19, about 1/4 of the positions were unfillled. 

Reader asks for more information on special ed

by Ann Sutherland on 10/07/18

It's beginning to look like this year will focus on special education.  I will ask for this information:

Thank you for this information.  However, it would be more helpful to know how  
the positions were allocated to begin with.  Of the "47 slots," how   
many were for certified Special Ed inclusion teachers, how many for Special Ed  
self-contained classes, then teacher assistants, etc.  How many of each type of 
slot are allocated for elementary, how many for middle, and how many for the    
neighborhood high schools versus the specialized programs of choice?  Also note 
that dyslexia teachers are not available to the Special Ed students.  They      
serve students under 504 plans.  It would help to know the campuses to which    
these additional teachers have been assigned.  Your campus charts under the     
Information tab showed where cuts were planned.  How is the $3 million in new   
staffing offsetting the cuts?

Budget planning once again stiffs school sites

by Ann Sutherland on 10/05/18

It's happening again.

Despite the negative 3 votes on last year's budget, staff is starting out again on the same "wrong foot", excluding from consideration the voices of school parents, teachers and administrators.

President Jackson, First VP Sims and I hosted a meeting with an award-winning budget team last September, who explained that to have a useful budget it is necessary to start with the CONSUMERS of school services.  But FWISD never does it.  Once again, they are starting with the board and district leadership.

They should start with testimony from the schools and families.  Dr. Scribner and staff would get an ear full.

Special ed funding remains unspent

by Ann Sutherland on 10/04/18

I received several complaints earlier this year from individuals who told me the school site special education teachers were being redirected to substitute for missing classroom teachers.  I asked for data on this.  According to response W002260-0918, the district does not track the data I requested.

They did respond to my request for the expenditures on the $3 million augmentation for special education services.  According to their response, there are 8 vacant Teacher Assistants and three vacant dyslexia teachers of the 47 slots.  Almost 1/4 of the budget has been unallocated as of September 19, the date of my request.

I appreciate receiving requests like this.  Hope the response help.

Some schools shine in voter registration--Oct 9 is deadline! / REVISED

by Ann Sutherland on 09/25/18

State law requires every public school enrolling students who will be 18 by election day to do at least two voter registration sign-ups per year.  This year, three FWISD high schools did very well--Arlington Heights 70% of all eligible voters are registered; Benbrook, 61%; and Success 98.18.

Yet some schools did not sign up a single one.  This is obviously a burdensome law and yet it can yield important results.  Paschal, South Hills, Dunbar and other schools had major events leading to increased sign-ups--rather than the 15% on the report (which was as of September 19), there are at least 23% of the 1860 potetial registrants.  

Let's hope a lot more sign up by Oct 9.  I'll wait for the final numbers and re-post later in October.  

More issues with special education

by Ann Sutherland on 09/16/18

A reader writes this very important blog post.  I have submitted a request for the names, hire dates and salary of this $3 million budget item for special education.  Will post the answer on this blog on 10/1 or 10/2 minus the names (I need the names to make sure the hires are new)

I am also submitting a request asking for the dates that all SPED staff are taken from their assignments to fill other school needs.  This should also be available on 10/1 and 10/2.

"NEW READERS-- SOME OF US TRIED REPEATEDLY TO SOUND THE ALARM ABOUT NEGATIVE IMPACTS TO SPECIAL ED STUDENTS MONTHS AGO (SEE BELOW). ANN RESPONDED AT THE TIME THAT $3 MILLION WAS BEING ADDED TO THE SPECIAL ED BUDGET. AS USUAL, NOW THAT THE YEAR HAS STARTED, THE SPECIAL ED STAFF IS BEING TOLD THAT RESOURCES ARE NOT AVAILABLE TO PROVIDE FOR THE NEEDS OF THESE STUDENTS. I WOULD THINK THAT OUR LEGAL DEPARTMENT WOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT THESE REPORTS, SINCE THE SPECIAL ED IEPs ARE LEGAL AGREEMENTS COVERED BY FEDERAL LAW. WHEN WE SPOKE BY PHONE WITH BUD KENNEDY OF THE STAR-TELEGRAM, HE SAID HE WOULD NOT "TAKE SIDES," DISMISSING OUR CONCERNS AS AFFECTING ONLY TEACHERS. 1. Underserving Special Education said on 5/30/18 - 08:52AM Ann, it was disappointing to see the lack of discussion at the last Board meeting regarding the secondary staffing cuts. Did you discuss our Special Ed concern reported below in executive session? I repeat the concern, hoping for a more prominent placement on your blog, and more attention to this area: What is the Board doing to address the years-long denial of Special Education services to students who should have qualified for these? (See Houston Chronicle expose and resulting Federal investigation.) The planned secondary staffing cuts are likely to reduce rather than increase services to this population, since the high-academic schools are not subject to cuts and will maintain small class sizes and preferable teacher to student ratios. The neighborhood schools are the ones that serve Special Education students with the Inclusion model. The neighborhood schools are also the ones subject to cuts in teaching staff in the core subjects. FWISD already does a disservice to these students by short-staffing the Special Ed program with usually only one lead Special Ed certified teacher on the larger campuses, and most services actually provided by non-certified, untrained (dedicated though they may be) Teacher Assistants. When you cut the General Education teachers in the core subjects, you plan to give even less attention to the Special Education students mainstreamed into these classrooms through the FWISD Inclusion model. It’s common knowledge that on the secondary campuses, Special Ed Inclusion teachers or assistants are usually only available for part of the class period for English and Math, not even for Science and Social Studies, much less electives or other graduation requirements. So you are already understaffing the core areas, and this current plan will make it worse. 2. Ann replies said on 6/3/18 - 10:12AM The budget has major increases in special education services: 5 FTE for dyslexia and 49 FTEs for Teachers, teacher assistants and other specialized positions for a total of $3.0 million."

More bad news about high schools

by Ann Sutherland on 09/10/18

Remember that despite the secondary STAAR results showing an increase from 1 to five middle schools on IR and, for the first time in memory, FIVE high schools are IR.  Nevertheless the board approved a reduction of another 150 core teachers in these schools (money generally going to central office).

Now the Youth Risk Behavior Survey has more shocking results from our high schools:  over 1/8 of our students seriously considered attempting suicide, an increase of the number of those planning how to do it increasing to 1/8 of our students, and the percentage of students attempting suicide increasing from 7.8 to 10.6%, OVER 1 IN 10 OF OUR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS.

The percentage of students who DID NOT GO TO SCHOOL BECAUSE THEY FELT UNSAFE EITHER AT SCHOOL OR GOING AND COMING TO SCHOOL at least one day increased from 8.8% (1 in 12!) to 10.1% (1 in 10)  

Survey was a sample of 3000 students, weighted to match our demographics.

Don't you think this deserves a board discussion?

Thanks to FWISD's Georgi Roberts for working to obtain the huge federal Centers for Disease Control grant which provided the horsepower for the surveys.

Don't you think this deserves a board discussion?

Everybody gets the 2%

by Ann Sutherland on 09/08/18

Thanks to the reader who asked.  Yes,everybody gets the 2% . . right on up to the Superintendent.  Last year he got $47,000.  $22,000 is an annual payment for his retirement.

Several schools get "A" grades

by Ann Sutherland on 09/02/18

We do need to voice some balance here.  Looking beyond all the "F" schools mentioned just below, there is some good news:

YWLA, TABS, the WLI, the two collegiate high schools Marine Creek and TCC South, all received "A" grades.  No middle schools though.

Elementary schools North Hi Mount, Tanglewood, Worth Heights, Westpark and Bonnie Brae also earned "A" grades.

45 schools (roughly 1/3 of all of our schools) earned "B" ratings.  

What happens when you gut secondary core classes: A little more on student performance

by Ann Sutherland on 09/02/18

Thanks to CIA for locating the final list of IR schools for 2017-18 (listed at  Last year we had 4 elementary schools and 1 middle school.

This year?  ONE elementary,(Van-Zandt-Guinn), FIVE high schools and FIVE middle schools.
Diamond Hill-Jarvis HS. Dunbar HS, Eastern Hills HS, Poly HS, and O D Wyatt HS.  Moning, Morningside, J Martin Jacquet, Leonard, and Glencrest Middle schools.

Gosh, do you suppose taking 100 core teachers, many with years of experience, out of these classes had anything to do with this?  And then, AFTER the disaster was known, taking another 150 out?  Notice that TWO* of the schools lie in Board President Tobi Jackson's district and at least TWO in First Vice-President T.A. Sims' district.  

And despite opposition from the President Jackson, 1st VP Sims and 2nd VP (yours truly) the board voted to continue this carnage.

We are already hearing about support staff filling in for missing subs.  And school is only 2 weeks old. 

* apologies to President Jackson for the earlier error.

My take on the latest STAAR tests

by Ann Sutherland on 09/02/18

A reader asked for my take on the latest STAAR tests. 

Please remember that between 2005 and 2010 Fort Worth student performance went from next to the top of major urban districts to next to the bottom, state-wide..  When Dr. Scribner came on board in 2015 we were STILL THERE.

TEA no longer publishes district-wide passing rates.Our board and Dr. S  agreed that one of his 3 goals was to go from 30% to 100% on 3rd grade reading scores from the STAAR tests by 2025 since early reading is the most important skill..  (That's why you see all those silver lapel pins that read "!00X25")

Things moved along, and by 2017 our reading scores had gone from 30 to 33 percent.  But then, this year there was no measured growth on the STAAR in third grade reading.

It's axiomatic that in bureaucratic behavior the failure to meet one benchmark will birth a different benchmark.  So, of course, Dr S developed a different measure of 3rd grade reading which measures the growth of students who were in class a certain percentage of the school year, enabling the district to claim that scores are increasing.

But they aren't, and they can't produce comparative data for the other districts on this new measure.

Care to bet on whether he will get his bonuses this year?

How the other half lives . . .

by Ann Sutherland on 08/27/18

We hear a lot of complaints about our health care costs--not only the out-of-pocket costs but the co=pays.  A new education blog,, reports that Los Angeles Unified is spending $2,300 per student, on health care.  We spend about $300 per staff member.  

LAUSD gets $16,000 per student . . . we get about $7,500.  

And $2300 per student is a lot more per staff member.  

Substitute shortage already?

by Ann Sutherland on 08/24/18

Sounds like we have problems already.  These comments were from previous posts:

I am a former 4th grade teacher on the northside. My colleague submitted to     
your blog as well. I bet you can guess what school we represent. In will get    
right to it. The special ed teacher that was supposed to provide specialized    
instruction (14 times last year when she was present on campus but was told by  
the administration to cover other classes -two examples - 5th grade teacher was 
out and a sub did not show, movie in the auditorium for teacher appreciation    
day).  Is this not illegal?  I had IEPs telling me the number of minutes of     
specialized instruction needed but my IEP students were expendable so that the  
Title 1 and special ed teacher could be elsewhere covering for subs or other    
events?  We are lucky Oakhurst parents did not know about this because they     
could cause legal issues. 
We have Special ed and Tital 1 teachers covering recess and Cafeteria 
Duty.     Should these teachers be getting their act together to cover the times on       
student IEPs?  (Making their schedules, attending meetings)  One student IEP    
says specialized instruction in Math for I believe 30 minutes but the person    
that is suppoesed to cover this is covering recess. Is not this illegal?  If an 
IEP states times, should not this be followed as soon as possible?  Would the   
Principal be in violation of the law if the special ed teacher and title 1      
teachers are forced to cover other areas?  My grade level chair has a student   
needing 30 minutes too. I cannot believe that this would be allowed.  This week 
is not a prep week. I am to enter grades and lesson plans. Why are special ed   
students expendalve on the North Side Elementary Schools?  

No very large Enrichment Opportunity Classes

by Ann Sutherland on 08/14/18

Dr. Washington reported late yesterday that there are no excessively large classes and that the EOC classes (as of yesterday) exist only in five high schools. Here are the numbers as of Monday 8/13:

Carter Riverside:  4 teachers 3-22 students; 1 teacher 23 sstudents
Arlington Heights:  3 teachers:  1 with 7, 1 with 6 and one with 5
Diammond Hill-Jarvis:  1 with 4 students
Western Hills:  1 with 5 students, 1 with 2 students
Paschal has major issues and these classes will be balanced, according to Dr. W.
Currently:  1 teacher has 2 classes of 32 and 31 students; one has 45 and 22 students; one teacher, not yet hired, has a class of 64 students; one has 16 students; 1 has 41 students; 1 has 41 students; 1 has 32 students and one has 36 students.  After these classes are balanced, no teacher will have more than 31 except one will have 36.

This data is from online enrollment only.

Just revealed! HS "Enrichment classes" of up to 100 students for core teachers

by Ann Sutherland on 08/11/18

I received this truly shocking comment.  Making teachers manage study halls?
With talk of record-keeping, lesson plans, grades, etc. . . . . This is unthinkable.
I am asking Dr. Scribner for explanation and will post what I learn.
Hello Dr. Sutherland - As I am sure you know the new 8 period day for high      
school requires that we all have Enrichment Classes (a type of study hall??).   
Anyways I have over one hundred students in two of these classes and must       
therefore meet in the library of our school for those class periods (on top of  
5 full classes of English). I hope that you can investigate this matter, as     
many other teachers are having classes to large to fit in their classroom. I    
have also heard that we will be required to do some sort of teaching/curriculum 
and grades. If this is true it adds another 100+ students to my workload which  
will cause me hours and hours and hours of extra work. I hope that you can help 
us teachers, 2018-2019 is going to be a rough year. 

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