Dirty job, nice title for coordinator

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 13, 2002


Special education students in St. John the Baptist Parish schools have a new ally – or is she the enemy?

Director of Personnel Anne LaBorde said the “Coordinator of Positive Behavior Intervention Services” is a nice title for a dirty job as a discipline coordinator for special education students.

“It would be much harder to find someone for the position of ‘discipline coordinator,'” LaBorde said with a smile. “We are taking a positive angle with this position.”

Teresa Hudspeth will be the first person in St. John Parish to hold the title. She was recommended by LaBorde and hired Thursday by the St. John Parish School Board.

“It (the position) was created because we have so many problems with discipline procedures for special education students,” LaBorde said. “It is always difficult to get a smooth transition from the behavioral problem to the disciplinary action when a special education student has been recommended for expulsion. There are more guidelines to follow and more services that have to be gone through.”

The new coordinator position will carry with it a hefty responsibility, requiring an in-depth knowledge of policies and laws concerning special education students. The coordinator will be responsible for keeping records of disciplinary infractions and using those records to determine when intervention services are necessary. She will also coordinate attendance at expulsion hearings and provide in-service training to school administrators/teachers.

The new post is a coordinator-level position that will pay the title-holder just over $56,000 a year. It is being funded by a Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grant. The IDEA grant is given to school systems to fund services for special education students.

“It was created for the reason of addressing special education discipline,” said Superintendent Michael Coburn. “It is an accountability program … to make sure proper procedures are followed before a special education student is suspended or expelled.”

The minimum requirements for the new job include a type A or B teaching certificate, which means at least three years of teaching experience, at least three years working in special education and a working knowledge of federal and state laws.

While the position was created in May, it remained unfilled until the School Board voted to accept Hudspeth’s candidacy. Hudspeth is an education diagnostician. She specialized in reading with a minor in psychology. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education.

Hudspeth said one of her first goals as acting coordinator of positive behavior intervention services is to meet with all the principals and to familiarize them with laws concerning special education students.

“I am aware that there are some new principals this year and I want to make sure that everyone is aware of the procedures,” Hudspeth said. “You can not just send a kid home and send a kid home (over and over). You have to show that you are trying to remediate a solution.”

Hudspeth said the position, while new in St. John the Baptist Parish, is not unusual. Although her title differs from special education coordinators in other parishes, most large parishes have someone assigned to handle discipline procedures of special education students. In smaller parishes, the job is handled by a school psychologist or other officials.

“I am looking forward to working with St. John,” Hudspeth told board members. “I plan to work to make a difference. I will be out in the public all the time, so I am sure you will be able to find me.”

Hudspeth is presenting at two conferences on special education this week. She will start work Monday morning.