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Rhode Island: SPED students "stuck in a broken system"

Feb 10, 2020, NBC10, Providence, RI: NBC 10 I-Team: RI families still struggling with special education crisis https://turnto10.com/i-team/nbc-10-i-team-ri-families-still-struggling-with-special-education-crisis Rhode Island families say their special education students are being left behind by local schools and worry their children are stuck in a broken system. The NBC 10 I-Team found that even when local school districts are found to be in violation of federal law, little changes. Kristi Castillero of North Kingstown turned to NBC 10 after what she experienced with her 15-year-old daughter, Lillian, who is autistic. "Autism is such a big range," Castillero said. "My daughter is probably a little more on the severe end."… The family was eventually able to enroll Lillian in a private school where she can receive the specialized services she needs, with tuition paid for by the North Kingstown School District. But the process took months. A Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) investigation requested by the family found that Lillian "remained at home without services from January to April and May to July 2017," a delay the family says left their daughter without the services she needs and caused her to lose ground. "My daughter got nothing. No social, no anything, for months," Castillero said. The I-Team took what we found to Susanna Loeb, director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and professor of education at Brown University. "I do think this is a national problem," Loeb said. "It's hard for the school, but then it's very hard for the parents and the kids to get what they really deserve from the education system, and I think this is an issue particularly for small districts, where a few high-cost kids really impact their budget." Loeb said a big part of the problem is a critical shortage of certified special ed teachers. Nationwide, 98 percent of school districts report they can't find the special ed teachers they need, according to SpecialEdShortages.org. …