CCSD mom creates idea of “Think Pods” for students with special needs

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard from parents of students with special needs who are concerned about the Clark County School District’s reopening plan.

Now, one mom is organizing a community effort to ensure these kids get an adequate education this school year.

We break down the the idea behind “Think Pods.”

“Students with special needs are not getting the services that they need adequately,” said mom Jshauntae Marshall.

Marshall is the mother of a 6-year-old with ADHD. Although he’s not on an individualized educational plan, or IEP, Marshalls tells us her son needs a hands-on approach to his education.

“I just want to make sure my child is going to learn and retain information that is going to be taught, and that will require some sort of adult intervention five days a week,” said Marshall.

To ensure that will happen, Marshall came up with the idea for Think Pods.

A student success coach will oversee 10 kids or less around the Valley, five days a week. This coach will act as a liaison between parents and teachers.

Disability advocate Stephanie Wynn says the coaches are an important step to ensure students are retaining information.

“To make sure their IEPs stay individualized, that they’re continuing to meet the unique needs right and that they’re progressing,” explained Wynn.

The Think Pods will also allow specialized therapists to provide services in a group setting.

“We just need to make sure our students with disabilities are receiving equal access to education as all other children and that they are able to receive the services they are entitled to,” said Marshall.

Marshall submitted the plan to the school district but has not received a formal response.

“The District is well aware that this is a concept that the community is going to do with or without them,” Marshall stated. “If they can’t figure it out, we’ll figure it out for our kids.”

So far, 30 people have come forward to help lead the Think Pods. They consist of district-approved substitute teachers, members of nonprofits and the community.

If you have additional questions about this effort, contact Jshauntae Marshall at marshall4trusteelv@gmail.com. She is also taking resumes from people wanting to be a Student Success Coach. Candidates must be over 18-years-old with a high school diploma or GED. They must pass a background check, CPR training, mandated reporter training and more.

Each coach will have a computer available for students without internet or without a device. They will coordinate with schools to find students in need.

You can also contact Stephanie Wynn at swynn@youwillchangetheworld.com or on her Facebook page. Wynn is a parent of a child with special needs. She has spoken to many parents who say they are concerned and don’t understand what the district is offering. Many have not had their questions answered.

Wynn is concerned how the District is going to ensure Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for students with disabilities, calling it a hallmark law for students.

“They don’t know what the District is offering. They don’t know how they’re going to participate in their child’s education in the fall. What does that look like? How much is going to be required of them? They’re very concerned about FAPE, which is the hallmark of the laws that protect our children.”

If you are interested in Think Pods, students who are distanced learning, in a blended model or homeschooling can all participate. Marshall is working with CCSD and says if the plan is approved, she will contact each school in the area surrounding the Think Pods to coordinate.

Marshall noted Think Pods will cost but says they will not be as expensive as child care. The money will be used to pay the coaches, as the program is not funded by the government or schools.

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