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Special needs students’ education to continue virtually in Broward

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County Public Schools considered making an exception for special needs students to return to the classrooms, but on Tuesday Superintendent Robert Runcie recommended schools remain closed.

The Florida Department of Education supports the district’s Exceptional Student Education programs for students ages 3 to 21. The special-needs students range from children who are gifted to children who live with traumatic brain injuries or other health impairments.

Sabrina Greenstein is the mother of a Nob Hill Elementary School special needs student. He was diagnosed with High-functioning Autism, or HFA, autism without an intellectual disability.

“I feel like they are setting him up and all the other kids for failure,” Greenstein said.

Broward County served more than 32,000 ESE program students during the 2019-20 school year. Runcie is considering running a pilot program to allow some special-needs students and teachers to return to a few schools on a voluntary basis.

“If we can find staff and families of students with disabilities who are willing to participate,” Runcie said.

Broward County employee’s planning week is from Aug. 12-18 and students’ virtual-back-to-school day is Aug. 19. Runcie proposes the pilot program should begin not earlier than Aug. 21.

“Our ESE department of educators, supports staff ... are scared,” Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco said.

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