NICEVILLE — The Department of Education visited Okaloosa County schools last week at the request of new district Superintendent Marcus Chambers. The visit was specifically to assess the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) programs that serve children with special needs.
“As Superintendent, I am concerned about the issues our school district has faced the past two years," Chambers said when asked the reason behind the requested visit. "We have phenomenal teachers who work each and every day to support and nurture our ESE student population, but we’re not perfect."
Chambers told the school board during Monday night's meeting that he specifically asked the Department of Education to highlight areas in which Okaloosa County's ESE program needs improvement. While here, state education representatives looked at four aspects: training, staffing, clarity of ESE programs and a need for instructional support.
“Training was an area that was seen where we could do even better,” Chambers said. “A need for instructional and behavior support for teachers was something that came out as well.”
State representatives were in Okaloosa County for two full days Tuesday and Wednesday of last week and visited Kenwood Elementary and Silver Sands schools. During the visit, representatives also met with parents from both schools to get input.
The Department of Education said it will give a full summary report on the ESE programs in two to three weeks, which Chambers said will be available to the public.
"While we are not expecting the summary report from the DOE for three weeks, we are not waiting to take certain actions, including creating an ESE Parent Advisory group and holding other meetings with ESE parents throughout the county," Chambers said. "We are also investigating additional training opportunities for all staff members."