DPS Parents concerned about funding for programs for students with special needs

DENVER -- There's miscommunication between one school district and parents when it comes to the future of special needs services.

Denver Public Schools says there won't be any budget cuts to special needs programs, but parents say their principals have said otherwise.

More than a dozen parents, all with special needs children, showed up to the district's school board meeting to try and convince leaders not to cut funding to their children's education.

Meanwhile, the district says there aren't any cuts at all, just a reallocation of funds.

One DPS parent says she was informed her child with Down Syndrome would not have the same resources next year.

“Those support partners are really critical for problem solving when issues come up,” parent Danielle Short said.

Danielle Short says her son thrives at school because of an additional support staff member with the title "para professional." Right now her son has two para professionals in his kindergarten class, next year he'll only have one.

Short said, “my biggest fear is that the school will no longer be able to support him.”

Short took her concerns straight to the school board, along with about a dozen other parents. They all came with the same message, a plea to not cut special needs resources. A plea the district says isn't needed.

“There is not a proposal to cut from special education, any amount,” Eldridge Greer with Denver Public Schools said.

The district says next year's budget proposal doesn't list any cuts. What it lists are re-allocations. The district says workers at the central office, some under the special education department, will be moved to other roles and locations.

Greer said, “We want to make sure that the dollars that we have available for students are closest to the schools and closest to the educators who can make a difference.”

A line the parents aren't buying.

“A special ed para in my daughters class was told that she’s gong to be let go at the end of the year, that there’s no funding for her,” one parent said. “I think it all comes down to it’s a word game for them, they don’t want to look bad, it speaks for itself, show us, show us the budget, show us where the money’s going, show us the proof.”

Right now, nothing is final with the budget. It won't be set in stone until May.