Broward schools look to add resources for special needs students

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Broward schools look to add resources for special needs students. (WPEC){ }

Broward County schools are considering increasing the number of special education teachers throughout the district.

This comes as they face scrutiny about how well they served Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz.

Dr.Antoine Hickman asked the board Tuesday, in a meeting scheduled prior to the mass shooting, to consider hiring nearly 500 more support facilitators, or special education teachers who work in the classroom with students.

“An overwhelming caseload creates a burden on the teacher and it could minimize the amount of time that our teachers have to spend with the students who need it,” said Hickman.

Hickman said right now the average support facilitator caseload is 61. That doesn’t assure every child gets the attention they need.

“There’s lots of speculation about what may have happened or not happened to Nikolas Cruz,” said Runcie.

Superintendent of Broward County Schools Robert Runcie said an independent group hired by the school district is reviewing how well Nikolas Cruz was served.

According to news partners at the Sun Sentinel, Cruz was attending a school specifically for special needs students but later transferred to Stoneman Douglas. He left their special needs program before being kicked out of school.

Runcie said he hopes the independent review into Cruz will help them learn better ways to serve all kids moving forward.

“We certainly want to identify opportunities where we can learn from this and how we can improve our services as a district,” said Runcie.

The proposal to hire more support facilitators would cost the district an extra $40 million a year, which is the school boards biggest concern right now.