School district to review staff training - FOX 13 News

School district to review staff training

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Nothing gets Jennifer Rogers' heart racing like getting a call from her son's school.

"I was shaking like a leaf," Rogers said.

Rogers remembers the day her 8-year-old son Daniel, who is a special needs child, disappeared at school.

"Something triggered him in the classroom so he ran out of the classroom," Rogers said.

Daniel was found safe in minutes, but Jennifer knows the outcome could have been so much worse. She also says the recent deaths of two special needs kids in Hillsborough County could have been prevented. She believes better safeguards are needed, including tracking devices like a GPS bracelet she got for her son Daniel.

"They have found old people with Alzheimer's, autistic kids that are not verbal, they find them with 30 minutes. They saves lives," Rogers said.

Right now, Daniel is in a special needs class, but down the road, his mom wants to mainstream him into a regular classroom.

Mark Kamleiter is an attorney who works on special education issues, and he's been an educator for nearly 20 years. He believes mainstreaming is critical to a child's development.

"We need to be including these children in classrooms with no disabled peers," Kamleiter said.

But Kamleiter says the pitfall remains the lack of training teachers and aides receive. Right now, school staff get only one day of formal training.

"If they are going to be working with a particular child they need to know what that child's needs are, and how to meet those needs in a very special way," Kamleiter said.

Hillsborough School Board Member Candy Olson defends the district's training, saying new employees are always paired with experienced staffers and continue to receive on the job training.

"That's why we have training and we don't have a whole crew that is inexperienced," Olson said.

But Olson says these recent deaths require a review of training procedures.

" I think we need to look at everything from should -- we are going to be looking at whether we should use these tracking devices on some of these children, to, should we have a different kind of training? It's tough to make those decisions," Olson said.

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