PERRINVILLE EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER PTA’S POSITION STATEMENT
The Livonia Superintendent has proposed closing Perrinville ECC and distributing our Special Education programs amongst various locations in the Livonia School District. Most impactful, the separating of our Early Childhood Program and our Autism Spectrum Disorder Programs.
We, the Parent Teacher Association of Perrinville Early Childhood Center find it necessary to offer a collective position statement on this proposal. Perrinville is a multi-program facility and home to our Speech and Language evaluation clinic, Talk It Up, Early Childhood Center program, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) program, Visually Impaired (VI) program, Moderate Cognitive Impairment (MOCI) program and Great Start Readiness program (GSRP). It is our association's position that the current proposal represents a significant danger both to our students and to the fiscal future of our district. Perrinville stands out in the city, the county, and the region as a unique and important Pre-K program that services children with Special Education certification in a least restrictive environment. Our brand constantly proves that Livonia Public Schools stand out among other districts as one of excellence, innovation, and inclusion.
Perrinville's PTA understands that the School Board, LPS staff, and Superintendent have not come upon this proposal lightly and know that our children's education and well-being are their top priorities. We further understand the current funding difficulties placed in front of them.
Between stagnant enrollment and insufficient funding from our state government, there are significant decisions and cuts to be made. However, we believe that the proposal regarding our Perrinville students must be reconsidered with more input from our parents and staff as to other possible solutions.
Perrinville's strength and superior quality of programs comes directly from our collaborative and cross-categorical approach to teaching. It is exactly that level of collaboration that is in danger. While we must, out of necessity, occasionally label our children with diagnoses or categories representing their unique social, educational, and emotional gifts, Perrinville has made it possible for our children to grow and thrive in a way that other programs of its kind simply cannot. While the proposal in question makes significant headway in filling a hole in the budget, we believe it is necessary to shed light on several new and significant cracks that may form in our district. We certainly wouldn't want a single student to fall through these potential cracks.
Children on the Autism Spectrum require integration with same age peers in order to build the social skills and confidence that they will need if they ever hope to enter a general education
classroom. Putting the ASD program in a general education K-4 building denies the preschool ASD students appropriate access to same aged peers and enlarges the gap in social, behavioral, cognitive and language development for these students. This is not the best practice.
This is not providing access to a less restrictive environment. Children with ASD mirror their peers in many ways from pretend play, bathroom skills, motor play, social skills and developing words. This piece is vital for ASD children to succeed.
When ASD students begin showing signs of being capable of thriving in a less restrictive environment, our unique situation allows staff to collaborate and move a child in baby steps. Sometimes it's 5 minutes a day in an ECP class, then a week later it might be 15 minutes a day until the child can show they can handle the transition. This slow integration maintains the child's confidence and comfort level while climbing the ladder toward self-sufficiency which, in the end, is really the goal of education.
Our GSRP (Great Start Readiness Program) program serves students with individual or
family factors which may have impact on success in school. GSRP collaborates with special educators to provide meaningful classroom experiences for children from ECP, ASD, and VI when placement is appropriate. This collaboration will be extremely difficult if they are separated. There are many times when a GSRP teacher has walked down the hallway to ask an ECP or ASD teacher to come help with their former student who is having a bad day.
GSRP also welcomes students from other programs, such as ASD, ECP and VI to come into our classrooms to play and interact with their "General Education" peers. This can be on a daily basis, a weekly basis and even on a trial basis to see how a student may acclimate and succeed in moving into a General Education kindergarten setting.
Sensory processing difficulties is almost always a huge component of ASD. This means that our students have a hard time with a multitude of noises, sounds, lighting, confined space, colors, etc. Careful consideration must be made to a school environment in order to ensure that our students are able to learn and grow appropriately. These students need the space to take breaks when they are on sensory overload or are overwhelmed by what is going on around
them. Perrinville takes into consideration fire drills, lockdown drills, visual prompts, allowing a private space to take a break from all activity and so on, throughout the building.
By dividing Perrinville's gross motor rooms between Jackson Center and Roosevelt our children who need and require gross motor therapy will suffer. The ASD students are given a gross motor room 2 times per day. Once they are moved to Roosevelt they will only have 1 gross motor room between 3 classes all day long. Also at Roosevelt, the ASD program cannot store adaptive bikes or any time of equipment in the gym due to it being the only storage/office space for the gym teacher. The ASD program will be forced to lose extremely expensive equipment
that has been purchased by the PTA (parents of the students)
Considering our ECP students with an Autism diagnosis on their IEP. Many children have an Autism Diagnosis but are high functioning enough to be in our ECP Program, yet our ASD staff will assist the ECP teacher on specific situations that occur throughout the year. These
students will no longer have immediate access to equipment, specific motor rooms and teachers that specialize in understanding their unique set of skills and needs. Placing these programs in
different buildings will force a parent to choose between the absolute best in therapy and the absolute best in socialization. Both of these are a priority.
While sharing space with General Education Pre-K students will likely be beneficial for our ECP students, our ASD students will see little to no benefit being in a school whose students are peers in neither age nor development. The placement of our ASD students in a separate location seems as though we are taking so many steps backwards and undoing all of the amazing progress and proof that we have seen and shown that keeping these programs together works.
School protocols on physical safety will need to be modified in the case of all of these changes. Our Pre-K students require alarmed doors, fenced in playgrounds, and often modified bathroom facilities. Perrinville also houses a variety of motor equipment, special adaptive bicycles, trikes and play and climbing structures with specific age and weight restrictions. Placing all of this equipment (most of which is brand new and purchased from our PTA) in a K-4 school poses the
risk of this equipment getting broken by the use of older children. As you know, special education adaptive equipment is very expensive and to have to replace it sooner than expected
would not be possible.
Perrinville currently services the MOCI (Moderate Cognitive Impairment) preschool students. Being at Perrinville allows them access to developmentally appropriate equipment such as bikes, climbing equipment, the ball room, slides, playground equipment, etc. The students are also able to interact with same aged peers from the other programs. The MOCI staff is able
to access preschool materials that Perrinville has available such as die cuts, age appropriate library books and Read It Once Again program materials.
Perrinville teaches parents as well as students. Our ASD and ECP parents share
many commons experiences. Having a child that is not neurotypical can often feel isolating. The separation of these parents cuts their support system in half. As parents we
depend on this support to get us through our bad days.
Consider the number of students that early intervention is capable of mainstreaming into the general education environment. Early intervention has been proven to make a difference in a child's progress and future. Consider the difference in cost between teaching a Special Education student and a General Education student over 12 years. Perrinville is an investment in our district's future.
While low enrollment district wide is one of the primary reasons behind these changes, Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnoses are on the rise. Will these new schools be able to provide room for growth? WillJackson Center need to turn students away next year? Will Roosevelt?
Perrinville is a newer building than Jackson Center. Perrinville has available space for expansion and an influx in enrollment of ASD or other programs. Though it could obviously
benefit from some renovations, it is in much nicer condition than Jackson Center. It wouldn't need the amount of money that is slated for Jackson's renovations. Would it be possible to move the Young 5's to Perrinville? Move the Jackson Preschool program to Roosevelt? Roosevelt is less than a mile away from Jackson Center so it's still centrally located
Perrinville is currently capable of providing the absolute best in early childhood education because of the diversity of experiences under one roof. Breaking up our programs places a rift not only between their physical location, but in the capability of what these staff member can do with our children. Perrinville is much more than a school; much more than classrooms. Perrinville is a culture of early childhood professionals who understand the "special needs" of our youngest children. Perrinville is also a system; one that was created more than 20
years ago by school district leadership who were very thoughtful about developmentally appropriate practices for preschool aged children and how to best meet their individual needs. Perrinville programs truly function as a whole. Therefore, the very thought of placing each program into a different building is a disservice to the strength of our coordination and collaborative efforts.
At Perrinville Early Childhood Center, the staff and parents speak the same language. Our language is a part of the culture.It's not about a particular building or supplies and materials. It's
about what they do, how they work together to improve interactions and experiences for the children. Children feel safe and secure and parents find comfort in knowing that their child is
with same age peers.
Livonia Public School's Vision Statement speaks to "opportunities to all children and serving as a source of pride for our community. …..that puts the needs of children and their education first."
Taking the prior statements into consideration, the Perrinville ECC PTA has no choice but to take the position that the current proposal under review is detrimental to the community that Perrinville has built as well as to the well-being of the district and all students with any
kind of special need. We hope that the district works with the parents and teachers in order to alleviate any and all of the aforementioned concerns.
ASD to ECP transition opportunities
2013/2014 School Year
5 ASD students had inclusion opportunities into ECP. 2 transitioned into ECP at the end of the
school year and 3 moved on to the ASD kindergarten at Coolidge.
4 ASD students had integration opportunities with GSRP and one student transitioned
on to cross-categorical kindergarten in Livonia, one student to General Education
in their home district with para support and 2 to ASD kindergarten out of
2014/2015 School Year
5 ASD students had inclusion opportunities into ECP (all Livonia residents). 2 transitioned to ECP after Fall conference time. 2 more will transition in the Fall next year because ECP is currently full. These students will continue daily inclusion opportunities until year
end. One student had integration opportunities in GSRP and transitioned back to his home district ECP program.
Inclusion to ECP is typically 20 minutes daily during a student's individual therapy
hour. The students go daily for 2-3 months with their therapy room para pro as support.
Integrations opportunities with GSRP were conducted during their play center time with a
classroom para pro support. They would go down during classroom play center time 2 times per week for about 20 minutes each time.
2014/2015 School Year
GSRP provided preschool services to 103 students. 17 students enrolled in GSRP have IEP (Individual Education Plans) and received support service at Perrinville. 6 students who were enrolled in ECP last year, now attend GSRP.
Speech Clinic & Evals
2013/2014 School Year
90 total evaluations done – 27 were ineligible, 40 went to ECP, and 23 received Speech/Talk It Up services
2014/2015 School Year
110 total evaluations done – 30 ineligible, 45 went to ECP, and 35 received
Speech/Talk It Up services