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Dothan Tackles Special Education Teacher Shortage

Dothan schools continue to receive more special needs students.The problem has been ,not enough certified teachers to handle the demand, but this school year the school district is tackling the problem.

Honeysuckle Middle School has one of the highest numbers of special needs students in Dothan Schools, with a 125 children. Principal Scott Faulk said he noticed the sudden growth last year. "The number still continues to grow," he said.  "Someday there are parents who come in and they want to enroll their child and then when we go back and look we notice the child has an individual educational plan,” continued Faulk.

 The students’ needs vary, but the children that have more critical and profound needs are in self -contained classrooms.  There they receive one-on-one attention, something Faulk said is critical for their success. "The one-on-one aides truly are a god sent. They work with the students closely and we have some that go beyond that."

Providing the additional attention didn't come easy. The school system had to hire more special education teachers and aides in order to make that happen.  School Superintendent Tim Wilder said getting more teachers at Honeysuckle was critical. "You have students with trouble with emotional disabilities. You have students who have trouble reading and have trouble with math. You have so many students with different disabilities so you have to meet each need,” explained Wilder.

The school system hired three more special education teachers and two aides for the non-magnet middle schools, which also included Girard Middle School.  The additional hires cost the system $160,000.

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