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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Parents, teachers and students from a local elementary school expressed their concerns Thursday over Sacramento City Unified School District’s decision to move some of their school’s special education classes to other campuses.

District leaders said they decided to move some of the classes from A.M. Winn Public Waldorf School to other district schools to compensate for an imbalance between special education students and staff.

But parents and faculty said the decision to move classes to another school with different teachers will hurt the students.

So, through song, dance and written word, a group of 50 demonstrators of all ages made their voices loud and clear in front of A.M. Winn.

“Teachers here at A.M. Winn have undergone two years of Waldorf training,” explained special education teacher Bethany Cox. “It has to do with a specific pedagogy that has to do with meeting the children where they’re at developmentally.”

“To take them out will definitely do more harm than good,” said parent John Ries.

Ries’ daughter, Alanna, is on the autism spectrum and is enrolled at A.M. Winn. He said the school’s special education Waldorf program, based on visual and artistic learning and storytelling, has helped his daughter tremendously. 

He said he worries if special education classes are moved elsewhere, the education simply won’t be the same.

“My daughter and all the people in the program who need that help suffer for it,” Ries said.

SCUSD told FOX40 some services will continue at A.M. Winn. As for the classes that will move, the district promises “an equivalent program with appropriately credentialed teachers.”

Special education is not ending at A M Winn Elementary. Special education services will continue to be offered at that school and in the district to meet the individual needs of students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP).

A small subset of IM Winn students receiving special education services through a special day program will be moving to another school site to take part in an equivalent program with appropriately credentialed teachers. The students who are moving from the AM Winn site will join a program that is closest to their residence, and the district will provide transportation for these students. Other students who have IEPs and attend AM Winn will continue to receive those services at AM Winn.

This is happening because the district must balance out staffing with student enrollment. The district monitors enrollment over the summer and tries to plan teacher and student class assignments in advance of the school year starting based on anticipated student enrollment. The district sometimes has to make these types of changes once students show up for the fall semester and we verify our actual student enrollment.  This process of balancing student and teacher ratios is called leveling, and all districts do this for traditional and special education staffing.

SCUSD Spokesperson

Parents said they just prefer the program remain as is.

“It feels like a step backwards,” Cox said. “I want the admin to really look at what they’re doing.”

“Find a way to bring up revenue. Find a way to get people to support the schools,” Ries said.