"I think we're responding responsibly and rationally."
That's the analysis of the situation by Warren County School District Board President Arthur Stewart on the ongoing situations at Youngsville Elementary Middle School and Youngsville High School.
A small group of concerned parents from the western attendance area were on hand at Monday's meeting of the school board's Curriculum, Instruction and Technology Committee to reiterate their concerns.
Citing extra staff and additional training, including the state positive behavior support program, Stewart said, "I think we are hearing the concerns loud and clear."
Concern was expressed about the effectiveness of the statewide Positive Behavior Support program that the district is undertaking in the form of a pilot program in the western attendance area.
"We've been touring buildings through the district," said board Vice President Donna Zariczny, citing the number of support classrooms present at Beaty-Warren Middle School and Warren Area Elementary Center.
"The intensive training maybe isn't as necessary as some of the other buildings," she said.
"The perception in the county (is that) all program in special education moved to Youngsville and that is not the case," said Interim Director Ruth Nelson.
Nelson said that she has heard concern in one school district about the new program but has also heard about positive strides in others.
"There's more to be done in Youngsville. The perception is that nothing that is happening," she added. "That is not the case."
She said that all attendance areas contain special education programming but that construction in the eastern and northern attendance areas have resulted in more programs in the west and central.
When the allegation was made that the district is seeking to cover up what is happening at YEMS, Stewart said that he "think(s) the public perception might be the programs didn't exist in Youngsville. They have been there for many, many years."
He acknowledged that the district "increased concentration" of those services as a budget savings, but said that concentrated programs also exist at Warren Area Elementary Center and Beaty.
"In terms of our ability to de-concentrate, if you will, (I am) not sure where we will find the dollars to do that," he said.
Citing a starting budget deficit of over $4 million, "I don't think we always understand the balancing decision that have to be made out there," he said."
Superintendent Dr. William Clark said that the district is in the preliminary process of staffing, which could include re-aligning staff to address some of the issues present from a special-education perspective.