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WCSD special ed teachers plea for support amid staffing shortages at Board of Trustees meeting

An image of the Washoe County School District Administration Building
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio

Multiple Washoe County School District special education staffers called on the district to provide more support during last week’s Board of Trustees meeting.

There are currently 132 openings related to special education listed on the district website, or more than a quarter of all open positions.

A woman wearing a striped sweater speaks in front of a microphone.
Livestream via Washoe County School District
Amanda Jones gives public comment to the WCSD Board of Trustees about the state of special education in the district on Tuesday, Oct. 11, in Reno, Nev.

Amanda Jones is a special education facilitator, and she told trustees about the realities facing special education staff during Tuesday’s board meeting.

“I have witnessed professionals crying and shaking profusely, not sure if they can make it through the day, let alone for the semester, or even the year, as our student needs are continuously growing,” Jones said. “Some of our special education teachers and staff are walking out due to the stress of the special education burdens.”

Jones was one of three staffers talking about how shortages are stretching themselves and their colleagues thin. They also called for an increase in compensation.

To help address the situation, Superintendent Susan Enfield announced her intention to install area superintendent Jennifer VanTress in a new position: the associate chief of teaching and learning, specialized instruction. Currently, VanTress isn’t just responsible for Area 5 schools; she also oversees special education. Enfield said the change is necessary to more effectively address the problems facing that department.

The board did not vote on the change due to a lack of specificity in the agenda item, so the change has not yet been finalized.

Jose Davila IV is a corps member forReport for America, an initiative of theGroundTruth Project.

Produced with assistance from thePublic Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Jose Davila IV reports on K-12 education with a focus on Latino students and families in Northern Nevada and the Eastern Sierra. He is also a first-year Report for America corps member. Es bilingüe, su familia es de Puerto Rico, y ama los tostones de su padre más que nada.
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