Warwick school board discusses special education program, equity | Community News

Linda D. Garrow

When: Warwick school board meeting, Feb 1.

What happened: Dr. Juliet Ashton, coordinator of student services, provided an overview of Warwick’s special education programs at the six schools in the district.

More details: She pointed out that the goal of education would be to provide instruction in the least restrictive environment, which would be general education, as opposed to instruction in the home. Other levels include general instruction with supplemental direct special education services, full-time direct special education services, and separate facilities. “There are 562 students who benefit from Warwick’s programming,” Ashton said.

Programs available: Learning support, K-6; life skills support, 7-12; itinerant and supplemental support (all categories), all schools; autistic support, K-12; multiple disabilities support, K-12; and emotional support programming, K-8, which the school district hopes to bring back to the high and elementary schools. Warwick also houses Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 programs in deaf/hard of hearing and one early intervention classroom, but those are operated through IU13.

Quotable: “In collaboration with the community the mission of the Warwick School District is to enable all students to acquire the knowledge, skills and values necessary to become responsible, productive, and respectful citizens,” Ashton said.

Defining equity: In January, new school board member Emily Zimmerman wanted the school district to provide a simplified definition of “equity.” After several board members submitted their definitions, “equity in education” will be defined as “every student, no exceptions, having access to the resources and rigor they need at the right moment in their education.”

Rebuttal: Board member Leslie Penkunas questioned why the various groups, such as race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, religion, sexual orientation, etc., were being eliminated from the definition of “equity.” “Words matter, actions matter. I think it is detrimental to leave these words out. I am not comfortable with removing this language,” said Penkunas, adding that as a white, heterosexual school board, they needed to be cognizant of language that would protect students in all categories in order to provide equity in education.

Other business: The board reviewed a request from CFO Nathan Wertsch for change orders on the new field house project. The recommendation on the was for Superintendent Dr. April Hershey or Wertsch to be able to approve change orders of up to $25,000 without needing to go before the board for approval. A decision will discussed at the board’s next meeting Feb. 15.


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