State school board approves ESSA plan, says changes will be needed

State school board approves ESSA plan, says changes will be needed

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama State School Board approved the state's Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, plan Thursday but said changes will be needed in the future.

Parents and advocates of special need students have spoken out against the plan, which they say allows their children to be excluded from the process. The current plan allows any sub-group (such as special needs) with less than 20 kids in a school, to not count in the evaluation process.

Corrie Merchant, a parent, says she is concerned that if kids don't count then they may be ignored by the system.

"If we are not given a seat at the table then again we don't count and it doesn't count," Merchant said.

Fifty-nine schools would have special education subgroups which would fall under the 20-student mark.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson met with concerned parents and advocates before the school board and said there will be changes made to the ESSA plan but that it had to be passed by Friday's deadline.

Richardson said he hopes to set up future meetings to help come up with a few priorities for the concerned parents, which could then be brought to the school board. He said he hopes to create a framework to make sure those concerned with issues like special education can get their voices heard.

"We will hold Dr. Richardson to his word," Merchant said. "We will expect that what he said at that meeting is true and that we will get a seat at the table a meaningful seat."

Richardson did not commit to making any changes to the ESSA plan.

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