The Knox Community School Corporation will be training its bus drivers this week on how to spot child abuse and homelessness.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction Peggy Shidaker, who serves as the school corporation’s liaison for homeless students, notes that bus drivers are the first group of people who would notice student homelessness. “You might think homeless doesn’t affect Knox, but actually, it does,” she told the school board last week. “We have identified 16 students this year who truly fit the definition of homeless. Now, six of them have transferred to other districts, which tends to happen. You move from one district to another. The other 10 are still in our district. We currently have two of those 10 students who live in a motel. So the bus driver found this information and then had to report it to me.”
Shidaker added that the training is required under the Every Student Succeeds Act. She said the latest available statistics show that 20,000 Indiana students are considered homeless.
Meanwhile, teams of staff members from Knox Elementary and Middle schools are attending a Focus on Inclusion Conference this week. The goal is to integrate special education students into regular classrooms as much as possible, according to Elementary School Principal Michelle Tarnow. “When you think special education, often times, we think about how we pull kids out of classes to work on some of their deficits, and that’s true,” she told board members. “But there’s a huge part of special education about pushing in, so that we’re also supporting them in their grade-level standards so it’s not that they’re just missing everything. We’re pushing in, helping them on that, and then we do have some pullout time to work on what their gaps are.”
Tarnow said that means special ed teachers and paraprofessionals are going into regular classrooms to give extra help to special ed students but also any others who may be struggling.