When Jill Mitchell first met with Yuma Elementary District 1 to inquire about services available for her autistic son, she was prepared to fight for them.
Mitchell, who moved to Yuma from Woodland Park, Colo., last summer, said services for her son Connor, 10, were not optional – she said she has read books and attended conferences and knows what works.
But despite some criticisms she had heard about special education programs at the district, Mitchell was pleased with what she found. “The fabulous thing about District 1 is that I didn’t need to fight because they agreed on everything,” she said.
The Arizona Department of Education audited Yuma Elementary School District 1 in October after a complaint was filed by a parent. The audit noted that 29 percent of special education teachers have not met the Highly Qualified standard in the subject area they are assigned to teach as mandated under the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. And there are four positions currently filled by long-term substitutes.
Mitchell said she knew that her son needed a paraprofessional “and without blinking an eye, they agreed.”