Lack Of Funding Forces Metro Schools To Lay Off Some Aides
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Parents of special needs children who attend Nashville schools have expressed outrage after discovering that over one hundred classroom aides were let go on the last day of school.
Concerned parents told NewsChannel5 the para-professionals, or "para-pros" as they're also known, make all the difference in their students' development.
In the Metro Nashville Public School system, children with special needs have often been taught in traditional classroom settings. Parents reporter Aundrea Cline-Thomas spoke with said it's the para-pros who make being in the classroom more manageable for their children.
"Teachers simply can't handle these large classrooms, and be able to pay attention to whether every child in the classroom is paying attention," said parent Daynise Couch.
Some of the parents gathered Friday at the Airport Marriott for the tenth annual Tennessee Disability Mega. They spoke about how para-pros modify the curriculum for special-needs students, and how they help other students understand their children's disability so they won't be teased or bullied.
Parents said they were concerned that without the para-pros, these students will become isolated.
Officials with Metro Schools said the para-pros' wages were paid for with stimulus funding that are no longer available. They said it was not a surprise that the para-pros' jobs would come to an end.
"We planned for it, and we went through and did a school-by-school, student-by-student analysis of how we can serve our students with this reduced federal funding," said MNPS spokesperson Meredith Libbey
Libbey said the responsibility to has been shifted back to the teachers, who Metro Schools insists are capable of handing the increased responsibility.
"We've provided a tremendous amount of professional development for teachers over the last three years. We hope in some way [we] have built capacity teachers to do the very best jobs possible with children," said Libbey.
Many of the displaced aides have gone to the Metro Schools central office looking for other opportunities. Officials hoped to transfer many of them to other open positions as cafeteria workers or bus drivers.