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Friday, February 5, 2010
DoE firing hundreds of Special Education skills trainers
By Andrew Walden @ 11:57 PM :: 18267 Views :: Maui County, Education K-12, Energy, Environment

by Andrew Walden

The Hawaii Department of Education Honolulu District is moving to replace hundreds of privately contracted paraprofessional Special Education skills trainers with newly hired and minimally trained DoE Paraprofessional tutors (PPTs) between now and March 22.

A February 4 ad on Craigslist seeks “reliable individuals” to become “Paraprofessional Turtors” (sic) in the “Honlulu (sic) District”.  The text of the ad reads:

Department of Education - Honolulu District is looking for reliable individuals interested in working with students with special needs. A mandatory Paraprofessional Tutor training will be provided for all interested individuals. Mandatory training does not guarantee employment. Hiring will be conducted by the individual Honolulu District School sites. Please email your contact information to HDOSS_Training@notes.k12.hi.us. Please include your name, contact number and e-mail address. Include "PPT HIRE" on the subject line of your e-mail.

  • Location: Honlulu (sic) District
  • Compensation: Maximum 19 hours weekly @ $13.34 per hour
  • This is a part-time job.
  • An email sent out February 3 to Honolulu District Principals, School Renewal Specialists, and Educational Specialists reads:

    In order to improve student achievement by providing quality services for all students, the Honolulu District is moving towards an Employee Based Services Model.  To that end, Honolulu District schools will hire DOE Paraprofessional tutors (PPTs) rather than privately contracted paraprofessionals (formerly skills trainers), effective March 22, 2010 to provide 1:1 services in accordance with IEPs.

    1) Effective Immediately, any new SOP requests for 1:1 services, if approved, must be assigned DOE PPTs.

    2) For students who currently have 1:1 services through privately contracted paraprofessionals, schools shall begin to transition these students to DOE PPTs immediately, for implementation effective march 22, 2010.  Any exceptions to this directive need to be communicated and approved through the respective Complex Area Superintendent.

    The letter was signed by Steven Schatz, Kaimuki/McKinley/Roosevelt Complex Area Superintendent and Calvin H. Nomiyama Farrington/Kaiser/Kalani Acting Complex Area Superintendent.   

    DoE threats to lay off Special Education skills trainers have been contentious issues in past years.  In January, 2007, DoE moves to cut the rate of pay to privately contracted skills trainers met with protests from CARE Hawai'i, The Institute for Family Enrichment, and Hawai'i Behavioral Health who argued that the pay cuts would drive 100s of skilled paraprofessionals from their jobs.  These organizations recruit, train, and manage paraprofessionals and collect an override on their pay.

    Under the DOE proposal, payment rates to the agencies would be $27 an hour instead of $34 for skilled trainers; $63 for Intensive Instructional Services Coordinators, who plan children's care programs, instead of $80 or more now; and $45 for parent training compared with about $78 now.

    Those levels mean skilled trainers — the professionals who work directly with children on a day-to-day basis — would see a drop in pay from between $16 and $19 an hour to between $12 and $14, with similar drops for the other categories, putting reimbursement for these skilled professionals far lower than Mainland rates.

    In October, 2004 Hawaii Reporter’s Laura Brown wrote:

    Now that the 1994 Felix Consent Decree requiring the Department of Education to provide mental health and educational services to special needs students is coming to a close, DOE personnel are rapidly making unilateral decisions to dismantle services to students. The most recent top-down mandate is to replace qualified Skills Trainers, who work with the neediest students, with unskilled Educational Assistants or else to pay Skills Trainers just above minimum wage. The move is designed to save the Department money for student services in order to pay for its ever-growing special education administration.

    It is not clear what kind of background checks will be used to screen the employees after their mandatory “Paraprofessional Tutor” training.  It is also not clear whether applicants will be selected according to their previous job experience.  Notably, the Craigslist ad does not request resumes, only contact information.

    ---30---

    Read DoE email >>> HERE

    Here are some things the DoE is NOT cutting:

    Audit: DoE instructor salaries diverted to "operating expenditure, supplies, and capital items"

    DoE Procurement audit: Millions wasted by "fraudulent unethical behavior"

    Hamamoto's DoE resignation: To block Lingle's constitutional amendment

    Furlough settlement: HSTA-DoE to submit new ransom demands to Legislature

    HSTA using furloughs to keep “Race to the Top” dollars—and reform out of Hawaii

    Lingle: DoE Superintendent should be appointed by next Governor

    Furloughs: How Unions and the DoE aim to co-opt protesting parents

    Hawaii budget crisis: Adult Supervision vs Team Chaos

    Furloughs vs Layoffs: The union no-solution strategy 

    Randall Roth: In Hawaii Education, The Buck Stops Nowhere , Randall Roth dissects Hawaii's failed Department of Education

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