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Where School Board Candidates Stand on Exceptional Student Education (ESE)

| August 25, 2018

From left, Janet McDonald, Trevor Tucker and Paul Anderson. (© FlaglerLive)

From left, Janet McDonald, Trevor Tucker and Paul Anderson. (© FlaglerLive)

Five candidates are running for two seats on the Flagler County School Board in the ongoing primary election, which ends Aug. 28: Incumbent Trevor Tucker and Paul Anderson in District 4, and incumbent Janet McDonald, John Fischer and Carl Jones in District 2.


School board races are non-partisan and at large. That means all registered voters anywhere in Flagler County may cast a ballot in the primary election for school board, regardless of party affiliation (or non-affiliation) and regardless of geography.

The Tucker-Anderson race will be decided by Aug. 28 whatever the result. The McDonald-Fischer-Jones race will be decided by Aug. 28 only if one of the three candidates polls more than 50 percent of the vote. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters go on to the general election in November.

You can read the detailed Live Interviews with each candidate through links in the box below.

The Flagler ESE Support Group conducted video interviews of its own, focusing on issues more general interviews overlook or neglect. The 1,900-some exceptional education students represent 15 percent of the district’s population of about 13,000. We asked Stephen Furnari, the founder and administrator of the county’s 150-member special-education support group, to provide an introduction to the interviews and allow us to publish the results below.

By Stephen Furnari

Whether or not you have a child in exceptional student education (ESE), if you want Flagler Schools to be an “A” district, then you have a vested interest in ESE being successful.

For the seventh year in a row, the Florida Department of Education gave Flagler Schools a “B” grade. Experts agree that the district can get an “A” grade if it improves graduation outcomes for the lowest quartile of students, of which, approximately 60 percent receive ESE services.

The bottom line: if you want a high performing school district, you’ve got to improve ESE.

ESE in Flagler Schools has some major challenges. But over the past year, newly appointed Superintendent James Tager has instituted many changes to improve it. Several pilot programs are being tested throughout the district, and effort has been made to improve tense relations with ESE parents.

These are positive but fragile changes that can easily be undermined with the wrong School Board leadership.

This year, the Flagler ESE Support Group invited every School Board candidate to interview with us to discuss their positions on ESE. All of the candidates were asked the same nine questions on topics relating to parent/district relations, adequacy of supports, the inclusion teaching model, and attitudes towards students with disabilities.

Every candidate was invited to speak with us. Trevor Tucker, Paul Anderson and Janet McDonald completed interviews. Carl Jones and John Fischer did not.

Here are their interviews:

Janet McDonald:

Trevor Tucker::

Paul Anderson:

 

Stephen Furnari is the founder and administrator of the county’s 150-member special-education support group. Reach him by email here.

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3 Responses for “Where School Board Candidates Stand on Exceptional Student Education (ESE)”

  1. 107 says:

    Janet O. McDonald is a 5 star school board member and is hands down the best candidate for this position. John Fisher didn’t even do a interview. He is a clown and so out of touch. Visiting the schools and having a presence doesn’t qualify one to be a school board member.

    Trevor Tucker is so out of touch and clueless. After 8 years as a school board member he should be on the ball. He is there for the pay check and is more interested in his own personal life and the life of his children. This candidate should be replaced this election…..I give him a 1 out of 5. Paul Anderson is far more passionate and willing to get involved.

    Paul Anderson is the candidate to vote for to replace Trevor Tucker. Just because Tucker has deep roots in Flagler County doesn’t qualify him to continue to serve. Tucker has had 8 years and in 8 years he doesn’t make the grade. ESE kids/parents have had some serious problems in the past which should all the more reason Tucker should be on the ball and be on top of it all, and he is not. I vote for Paul Anderson and think his passion and eagerness to make our schools better is better for our children.

    VOTE AUGUST 28, 2018 FOR JANET MC DONALD AND PAUL ANDERSON FOR SCHOOL BOARD!!!!!

  2. BeTheChange says:

    Made it 19 minutes into Mr Tucker’s interview and 13 minutes into Mr Anderson’s. Can we just clone Janet McDonald and have 2 of her on the board and call it a day? Were their responses even in compliance with IDEA? Mr Tucker, it is not and has not been for decades, up to the teachers to decide where an ese student is taught. And Mr Anderson, please read up on the mtss process, in which teachers must operate in order to identify a student for ese services. Usually.

    Mrs McDonald’s thoughtful answers served to let the voters know that she has a thorough understanding of the challenges facing ese students, parents and educational professionals. Including, but not limited to her honest opinion that writing legislation is easy, funding it is where it gets dicey, and her cart before the horse analogy possibly referring to administrators’ well-intended, hasty inclusive roll out.

  3. Realitycheck1 says:

    How much does Flagler really care about ESE students? Budget cuts are taking away vital positions such as staffing specialists. The extras burden now lays at the hands of the ESE teacher, which in turn takes time away from the student they are servicing. You want to invest in these students, time, energy, and strategies. ESE teacher’s spend more time on paperwork than necessary. I hope these candidate take into consideration the teachers who by choice want to work with these students and find ways to support them as well so they can continue focusing their energy on the students instead on burning them out.

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