Administrators at Lewiston High School dedicated another classroom to its special education program last week after hearing concerns from parents who stated the allotted space was inadequate to meet the needs of their kids.
The high school, which opened late last month, originally had three classrooms and two conference areas for its special education students. One of those classrooms equipped with a kitchen and a bathroom space was used by students in the life skills program.
Earlier this month, Jennifer Bramlett, a parent of a student in the life skills program, said the space was simply too small.
Parents formed a Facebook page and later met with administrators to discuss their concerns.
As a result, Principal Kevin Driskill said a classroom located across the hall from the program was repurposed to provide more space for the kids in the program. Students were moved into the space last week.
Since the school welcomed students for the first time last month, staff has worked to troubleshoot some areas within the building.
“Some things are working great and other things we need to adjust,” Driskill said. “We are going to create an environment for whatever program it is that best suits the needs of our kids and programs.”
Bramlett was happy with the change. She said administrators are also working to put in a sidewalk that accesses the classroom from the outside for the students who have mobility issues. Work is also being done to improve the motor room, which is a space students can go if they feel they are being over-stimulated.
“I am so excited that the administration is willing to listen and work with the parents,” Bramlett said. “They’re working on just about everything that has been brought up so far and we are having monthly meetings with the administration so we can talk about how things are going and what other things we might be able to do with the program.”
Before the addition of the about 900-square-foot classroom, the special education space at the high school was about 120 square feet larger than the facilities on the old Normal Hill campus.
Superintendent Bob Donaldson said he believes both sides are happy with the end result.
“My interest is that we have the best, most functional space for all of our students districtwide and at the high school,” Donaldson said.
Bramlett encouraged other parents to advocate for the changes they’d like to see.
“It’s very important that we speak up, especially if they are special-needs kids,” Bramlett said. “They often don’t have the ability to speak up for themselves, so we have to be their advocates at all times.”
Tomtas may be reached at email@example.com or (208) 848-2294. Follow her on Twitter @jtomtas.