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Brent Freeman is the new Special
Education Officer for Indianapolis Public Schools. It’s a big job with an
important department that touches more in the district than many people
realize. He took time out from settling into his role to give us more
information about what he and his Special Education colleagues do for our
district students and families.

 

Who makes up the Special
Education Department, what roles/jobs? What are the key
responsibilities?

 

Our Special Education Department serves
over 6,000 students in IPS and includes hundreds of teachers located in schools;
teams of specialists including speech and language pathologists, physical and
occupation therapists, school psychologists; compliance monitors; instructional
coaches; central office administrators; and more.

We work to level the playing field for students
with exceptionalities, so that they can achieve as well as or better than their
peers. To accomplish that, we provide additional services, accommodations, and
programs for students. We also have the significant responsibility to ensure
that we follow government regulations.

 

What do many people not realize or
understand about what your department does for students and schools?

People may not know that we have
received recognition nationally for our Crisis Response Team and our Project
Search program, which teaches job skills at Community East Hospital. Also, some
are surprised to find we provide special education services to several hundred
students attending private and parochial schools located within our district
boundaries.

 

In what ways do you support our IPS
families and how can our families support the work you are doing?

 

We support our IPS families by
partnering with them for their child’s education. First and foremost,
we want to see every student receive the highest quality instruction so that
they can achieve, regardless of whether they receive special
education services. If a student has an
exceptionality, we aim to educate parents on their rights under IDEA and Article 7, which are laws governing
special education.

 

Families can support our
work by being involved and aware of their children’s unique learning needs. We
may see certain aspects from a school perspective, but a parent or guardian can
reveal a great deal about a student outside of school. All perspectives will
allow us to provide the best educational fit for each student.