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In Florida: District Shortage Leads to IDEA Disparities for Students

The “In the States” feature by Kaitlyn Brennan is a weekly update to keep members informed on state-level activities impacting the education and educator preparation community.

Students across the Lee County School District in Florida are not receiving services they are entitled to through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

On September 20, Principal Cherry Gibson of Gateway Elementary informed a group of parents that, “Our district is experiencing a speech-language pathologist shortage. This will impact speech and or language services for the students at our school.”

One parent who spoke with anonymity to a local media outlet in Florida  described the impact of the teacher shortage and the lack of speech pathologists as just one problem she and her son must deal with daily.

A physical education teacher who self-described as “not knowing a thing about how to teach critical thinking reading classes,” in the district is currently teaching five reading classes due to the shortage. She admitted she “has no business teaching reading anyway.”

The compounding impact of increasing class sizes and declining numbers of trained staff are described as impacting both student learning and safety with some parents looking to private schools as an alternative