EM Board of Education approves open enrollment policy change, approves district openings

By Cara L. Dempski

ELK MOUND — The Elk Mound Board of Education approved an open-enrollment policy reflecting the statutory language regarding students who need both regular education services and special education services.

The policy was initially brought to the board’s December meeting, where superintendent Eric Wright suggested the only alteration to the policy should be to remove language detailing a waiting list for open seats in programs. The policy was sent back to committee, and approved during the board’s January meeting held last Monday.

[emember_protected] Elk Mound’s clarified policy allows the district to reject the application of a student in need of special education services if said services are not provided in the district or there is no space in the program. The policy is a direct reflection of current state statute.

Under Wisconsin statute 118.51, an application for a student to be open-enrolled in a special education program can be rejected based on “whether the special education or related services described in the child’s individualized education program under s. 115.787 (2) are available in the nonresident school district or whether there is space available to provide the special education or related services identified in the child’s individualized education program, including any class size limits, pupil-teacher ratios or enrollment projections established by the nonresident school board.”

The policy approved also allows for non-resident students enrolled in the district to be sent back to their home district if they are identified as being in need of an IEP and the non-resident district is unable to provide for all of the child’s educational needs.

The issue has recently been in the spotlight locally due to a family whose three eldest children are open-enrolled at Elk Mound schools from Eau Claire, but whose youngest child is in need of special education services and has not yet been accepted as an open enrollment into the district.

According to the district, there are currently no open seats in any of the special education programming offered, which administrators say led to the rejection of the Books family’s open-enrollment application for the child.

After approving the new policy, the board also approved the 2018-2019 open-enrollment seats for regular education and special education. Superintendent Eric Wright reported there is unrestricted open enrollment for both the preK through kindergarten classes and all high school classes, and there are 10 seats available in first and second grade, 18 in third, five in fourth, 10 in fifth, 17 in sixth, 10 in seventh and 14 in eighth.

Wright also said there are no seats available in the early childhood through five-year-old kindergarten special education program, elementary school, or high school, but there there will be one middle school seat open.

Likewise, Wright indicated there are no seats in speech at the elementary and middle/high school levels, and there is no staff on hand for occupational/physical therapy or deaf/hard of hearing or audiology – which is subcontracted out to other agencies when necessary.

The district has been named of one of three respondents in a Dunn County civil matter regarding the Books, and several of their neighbors, who desire to redraw the borders between the Elk Mound and Eau Claire school districts to include the family’s home as part of the Elk Mound district. The next hearing for the matter is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. January 30 in Dunn County Circuit Court Branch 2.

Other business

Prior to the meeting’s start, the board watched a presentation on robotics and programming from four sixth-grade students and teacher Michael Proft.

The board addressed high school course fees for the 2018-2019 academic year and progress toward building goals – both of which were approved – before turning their attention to approval of the district audit report update, the early graduation of one student, and last week’s state education conference.

Board members also:

• Approved revision of the district policy regarding student promotion and retention to remove phrasing indicating state test results would be used to promote or retain students to the next grade level, and removed parent support from the retention rubric in order to promote or retain students based on purely academic concerns.

• Discussed resolutions to be voted on at last week’s state convention.

The board then adjourned to closed session, where Wright later reported the body approved hiring Terence Scheueman as a full-time custodian, and completed Wright’s performance evaluation. [/emember_protected]