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Duval school district eyes more services for dyslexic students

Posted: February 3, 2014 - 5:47pm  |  Updated: February 3, 2014 - 6:00pm

R.L. Brown Elementary School would become a quasi-magnet school for dyslexic students under a new plan that Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti will present Tuesday.

Vitti will ask board members to approve paying Hope Haven Children’s Clinic $750,000 so officials there can deliver the GRASP program at four elementary schools. GRASP is special training that shows teachers how to instruct students with dyslexia. The money also would pay for six or seven Hope Haven instructors.

The plan would serve 225 students, second- through fifth-graders at Hendricks, Hogan Springs Glen and Loretto elementary schools. The sixth-graders at those schools would go to R.L. Brown and get their special instruction alongside students already enrolled at Brown.

Dyslexia, a learning disability, is often characterized by someone’s difficulty with word recognitions, spelling, vocabulary and reading fluency. With concentrated effort, dyslexic students can learn and achieve as high as typical students, researchers say

Joanne Robertson, Hope Haven’s executive director, said the training focuses on showing students how to learn through sight, sound and touch. She said Hope Haven had a similar contract with the school district last year, but Tuesday’s plan calls for training more teachers.

Vitti, who is dyslexic, said he chose the four schools because they are spread across the county. Parents at those schools also asked the district in 2012-13 to do more for dyslexic students, Vitti said.

School district officials piloted the GRASP program at these elementary schools in the fall and saw what they felt were positive results. When surveyed, 86 percent parents of dyslexic students felt the reading instruction met their child’s needs.

Parents aren’t the only ones pleased.

Robyn Rennick, program coordinator for the Dyslexia Research Institute in Tallahassee, said the school district has a great plan. Rennick, a former principal, said dyslexic students will thrive in a school just for them because her research shows that whenever a school district tries to lump dyslexic students in with other students, “they short-change the dyslexic individual.”

“We know that they [dyslexic students] have nervous systems that are different from typical students so they require a different type of teaching,” she said. “I think this is a wonderful idea.”

DUVAL COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD AGENDA

Here’s a look at some of the items the Duval County School Board will consider at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Cline Auditorium of the School Administration building, 1701 Prudential Drive. The meeting will be broadcast live on WJCT Channel 7.4, Comcast channels 99 and 212 and online at duvalschools.org.

 

Item: Upgrades for the student management system

What it means: The board will decide whether to approve spending about $430,000 for software updates to SAP, the computer system for student management and other business operations for the district. The updates would keep the school district’s system up to date until Dec. 31.

 

Item: Mid-Year Principal Changes

What it means: The board will decide whether to approve the human resource transactions list. This month’s list includes the principal changes that Vitti made for the beginning of the spring semester: Moving Angela Maxey to Ribault Middle School and Evan Daniels to Jackson High. The board cannot reject any of the personnel changes unless it finds that an employee doesn’t fit the job’s minimum qualification or the applicant has done something morally egregious.

 

Item: Sharing the Kings Trail Elementary School field

What it means: The board will decide whether to allow the YMCA to use the fenced-in playground behind Kings Trail Elementary School after-school and on weekends. The vote also would let the organization use the school’s parking lot. In return, the YMCA agrees to make sure the grounds are clean after school hours.

 

Khristopher J. Brooks: (904) 359-4104

 
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