December 11, 2020 — Midland ISD is devoted to identifying and breaking down barriers to participation and belonging at all of its schools, no matter a student's special need.
As part of Inclusive Schools Week, the district is recognizing the work of MISD's Special Services Department, which provides a comprehensive education program for students with disabilities from birth through age 21. Part of Special Services' work is to ensure inclusiveness for special needs students.
Inclusive schools ensure "all students are full and accepted members of their school community in which their educational setting is the same as their peers, whenever appropriate," according to the Inclusive Schools Network, which initiates Inclusive Schools Week. This definition is based in law that all school districts must follow.
Per the Individuals with Disabilities Act, MISD is required by federal law to provide students an education in the least restrictive environment possible. All students with disabilities must be educated, to the maximum extent appropriate, with their nondisabled peers. Special education students are not removed from regular classes unless education in regular classes cannot be achieved satisfactorily, even with supplemental aids and services.
"We're dedicated to promoting inclusiveness and ensuring a supportive learning environment for all students," said Jennifer Warren, Executive Director of Special Services.
To support staff and students in this effort, MISD has partnered with Lead4ward to provide professional development to teachers and administrators involving co-teach and inclusion best practices. These models are used by general education and special education teachers to ensure learning for all students.
Nearly 2,100 of MISD's 25,500 students — about 8% — are supported by Special Services.
"It is critically important that all learners are able to participate in all aspects of the school community," Warren said. "Inclusive learning fosters student success, and when special needs students succeed, we all succeed not just as educators, but as a community."