Fargo Board Members visit special education only facilities in Minnesota in hopes of finding model for Fargo

FARGO, ND (Valley News Live) - The conversation continued Tuesday about a special education only facility, or an LRE (least restrictive environment) level D facility in the Fargo School District.

School board members visited two similar facilities in Red Wing, MN and Blaine, MN to find out how they operate. They wanted to learn what kinds of things work and what things don't for these areas when you keep these students with special needs in a separate location.

The board members spoke very highly of their tour of the facilities saying their system allows for personalized education for students who need it.

“If people could see this school, they’d probably ask to be brought there because that’s exactly what’s happening at this school,” said board member David Paulson. “They have parents begging to allow their kids to stay after they were ready for re-entry.”

They said these facilities allow staff to customize student's learning by being able to have a more exclusive, one-on-one environment.

Parents argue the facility isn't the issue.

Parents said short staffing in special education and lack of training is what they want to see change.

"We already have programs in Fargo,” said Katy Barnum, mother a student with special needs. “Why don't we try to make those better, provide additional training, provide additional resources where we already have them in our neighborhood schools so kids don't have to be segregated?"

“What is the school going to do different, and are they going to staff this new building they are trying to build?” asked Fargo mom, Victoria Johnson. “Are they going to staff them, are they going to be well trained? If they say yes we are going to staff them, we are going to train them, the question is why are they not doing it now?”

The discussion continues next week as the board plans to use these conversations to move forward.

Fargo’s Long Range Facility Plan says the district hopes to have the facility for Setting D serviced open by Spring 2022.