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Special ed success recognized

The Brookhaven School District is not just meeting the standardin special education programs, but setting it, according to numberspresented to the board of trustees at Tuesday night’s monthlymeeting.

In a presentation to the board, Special Education DirectorStephanie Johnson explained that school districts have to meetcertain targets under state and federal laws, or the districtsthemselves can be held liable in a court of law.

Johnson told the board that school districts must be incompliance by the year 2010, but added that the Brookhaven SchoolDistrict is in already in compliance in all areas. There arecurrently 370 special education students in Brookhaven schoolsbetween ages 3-21.

Among other things, Johnson said, the number of special edstudents being instructed with others of their grade-level peershas gone up drastically in the last two school years. In addition,the district is in line with standards of how many African-Americanchildren are diagnosed with learning disabilities as opposed toother races.

Other projects within the special education program are apartnership with the Southwest Mississippi Health for students whoare severely emotionally disturbed and a program called “ChildFind,” which helps identify special ed students within theBrookhaven city limits, whether they attend Brookhaven schools ornot.

Board members expressed pleasure with Johnson’s efforts.

“Based on these numbers, it looks like you’re doing a greatjob,” said board member Stan Patrick.

The board also recognized Master Economics Teacher KristaRussell for completing the Mississippi Council’s Top PriorityProgram to receive her rating as a Master Economics Teacher.

BHS Principal Susan Chapman informed the board that currentlyMississippi teachers only score in the 62nd percentile on theNational Assessment for Economic Progress.

In addition, there are only 77 master economics teachers inMississippi, and only 22 high schools in the state with an advancedplacement economics program. That makes Russell’s achievement evenmore exciting, Chapman said.

Meanwhile, Food Services Director Tonya Thomas-McSweyn waspresent at the meeting to inform board members that Brookhaven’sthree elementary schools have been ranked as Silver Level TeamNutritional Schools. In the state, there are only seven schoolsthat have qualified for silver level, and the other four all belongto the same school district, she told the board.

Among other things, the schools must have nutritional educationfor students, an opportunity for physical activity for the studentsevery day, and must keep all vending machines in the guidelines ofthe program.