Detroit Lakes Becomes Special Education Hub - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Detroit Lakes Becomes Special Education Hub

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Specialists and programs tailored to students with special needs are attracting families to the Detroit Lakes school district. The district is seeing an increase in special needs students, especially in the last ten years. Statewide, 12% of Minnesota students have special needs. Detroit Lakes is currently at 21%. Valley News Live explains how the growth is actually  benefiting students.

The Detroit Lake school district currently has about 670 students that fall in to the special education program. Ten years ago it was just over 500 students.

"It seems like each kid is an individual and they each come with a set of skills," say veteran special education teacher Suzanne Borstad.

There are 14 different categories a student can be placed that would categorize them as special education. Borstad has been teaching for 25 years and teaches special education to first through fourth grade.

"We just take them and try to educate them the best we can," says Borstad.

In the past few years each  incoming kindergarten classes has had at least 20% of students fall in special education category. The school hopes this early intervention will help students get out of the special education programs.

"We always want students to not need us anymore and exit the system and join the regular ed classes as much as possible," say director of Federal Programs Marcy Matson.   

Detroit lakes school district is becoming the hub for special education, that is because they are a larger district in the surrounding area.

"So people moving to this area if they have a student with special Needs especially a high needs student they would try to move in to a district that can handle their child's special needs," says Matson.  

Although other districts are able to handle the needs of students, this district has additional programs and specialists attracting families to the area.

The school district has added teachers to accommodate the growing class sizes, but is still looking to hire more special education teachers and substitutes.

Nationwide there is currently about 6.6 million students with disabilities.


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