School officials reviewing new options for students in IEP

The Shenandoah school district is looking at new graduation requirements for special education students in Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

During the Shenandoah School Board meeting, Monday, May 11, Tiffany Spiegel, the district’s director of early childhood and special programs, reviewed a draft proposal providing multiple options for students in IEPs who may not meet all high school graduation requirements. Spiegel said the Iowa Code requires school districts to determine what requirements special education students must meet to receive a high school diploma.

“So, in general speaking, a high school graduate, when they get that diploma signed by the board, the superintendent, the high school principal,” said Spiegel, “it says that they have met all standards and requirements for graduation. That is contradicting for students with special education needs because not all of our students that graduate after their senior year have met those same requirements. Some of our students have disabilities that limit their capability of doing that. So, what the state had asked is that school districts come up with a plan called Options to Diploma.”

Spiegel said special education students with IEP’s beginning with the class of 2022 would have four options to choose from. The first option, students would receive a high school diploma by obtaining all 50 credits and meeting all requirements. The second option would be a general diploma for IEP students that received 50 credits, but would not be graded. Students choosing this option would not receive a GPA.

The third option would be an essential diploma. Students would be required to obtain 37 credits, with pass/fail grades, and they would not receive a GPA. The fourth option for a diploma would be a certificate of completion. There would be no required credits and students would not receive a GPA.

“With these options, the goal would be they all walk,” she said. “It’s something that I recommend that we not take from them. They all walk. They all get that cool diploma handout that seniors receive. This year is different, but in future years, they shake the hand, they walk the stage. I want them to have everything that every other senior has. There would be no physical difference, just the piece of paper inside of that pamphlet would look different.’

Additional discussion on the proposal is planned during future board meetings.

In other business, the board…

Approved the first reading of a board policy regarding graduation requirements. The board approved the amendment increasing the number of math and science credits from six to seven back in February.

Approved the contracts for Kiley Ryan as a 3rd-grade instructor, and Vanessa Morgan-Fine as middle school special education instructor.

Approved the resignation of Jessica Doyle as a kindergarten instructor.

Approved the contract amendment of Jennifer Chapa from half time to full-time 9th-grade sponsor.

Approved a sharing agreement with the Clarinda School District for an ELL instructor.

Approved a consortium agreement with the Council Bluffs School District for students enrolled at Children’s Square or Heartland Family Service.

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