Controversy over public special ed during pandemic continues in South Florida

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – To slow the spread of the coronavirus, the school districts in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have decided to continue virtual education during the fall. The fear that distance learning may not be enough for students with special needs had fueled a controversy.

Some parents believe their children need in-person instruction, one-on-one intervention and there need to be exceptions for special education services. Children who are usually receiving help from teachers and therapists are now having to rely on their parents. Speech therapy has turned into teletherapy.

It’s a statewide dilemma. More than 13% of Florida’s public school students receive special education services, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

On Wednesday, Broward’s Teacher Union was standing against the possibility that the district could start a pilot program on a volunteer basis at some of the Broward County public schools.

“It’s too much of a risk factor when we have this disease out there that is so strong,” said Anna Fusco, the union’s president.

A judge agreed Monday to expedite hearings for a lawsuit filed by Florida’s largest teacher’s union over the safety of the start of school.

The Florida Educators Association took the fight to keep Florida schools from reopening to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida in Miami-Dade County. Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education are trying to get the case dismissed.

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