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Muscogee County, GA: District to hire "for-profit company" to help with SPED

June 3, 2019, Columbus (GA) Ledger-Inquirer: MCSD board votes on $17 million contract for new special-education options Two years after a split Muscogee County School Board rejected the superintendent’s controversial recommendation to hire a for-profit company to provide special-education services, the board has approved a less-extensive contract with a different for-profit company to address the same persistent problem. During a called meeting Monday evening, the board voted 8-0-1 in favor of spending $17 million over three years for a continuum of services provded by ChanceLight Behavioral Health, Therapy and Education of Nashville, Tennessee, a proposal the Ledger-Enquirer first reported on in February…. “This is a collaboration,” said Chambers, a former teacher. “Our Muscogee County School District teachers are still involved in educating our students, and then ChanceLight comes in and provides a wraparound service. Teachers are trained to teach reading, writing and arithmetic, and when it gets over that boundary into mental health issues and issues that deal with behavior, those things aren’t taught in the teacher program, when teachers are going through school. … ChanceLight, which has been operating for 20 years, serves nearly 19,000 clients and students each year with nearly 3,000 employees at more than 150 locations in more than 20 states, generating about $134 million in annual revenue, according to its website…. The proposed $5,670,000 annual contract with ChanceLight isn’t the all-encompassing plan for $6.4 million per year that was in the 2017 recommendation to hire Camelot Education. This new proposal covers only students with disabilities who exhibit extreme behavioral skill deficits. The students without a diagnosed disability but with severe discipline problems would remain in the AIM Alternative School at the Marshall Success Center. Students in the Behavior Supports Program would have diagnoses that may include bipolar disorder, attention deficit, attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity, oppositional defiant disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorder or reactive attachment disorder, or they may be victims of abuse or neglect. … MCSD’s proposal to hire ChanceLight also comprises $170,200 in startup costs, including renovations at Marshall, and an additional $116,042 in unbudgeted staffing cost for a lead board-certified behavior analyst’s salary and benefits. The school district already has Behavior Supports Program positions for 14 teachers ($919,968 in salaries and benefits), 20 paraprofessionals ($1,019,312), one program manager ($133,587) and two board-certified behavior analysts ($107,336).


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