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San Diego Unified School District to consolidate, reshuffle Pre-K and special education classrooms

Posted at 11:41 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 09:20:42-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A shakeup is underway in the San Diego Unified School District’s Early Childhood Education program, as officials look to consolidate and reshuffle Pre-K and special needs classrooms.

District officials say the changes are not budget-related; instead, the move is to integrate special-needs students into general classrooms -- which officials say will benefit their development and learning.

Next year, San Diego Unified will look to integrate four-year-old special needs students into the general population. Officials say it's been done at some schools, but new state legislation has allowed the change to happen district-wide.

The changes could impact nearly 100 positions in the district, though district officials say they are looking to move the affected staff to other jobs.

"I've been in the same classroom for 22 years teaching young kids. I felt strongly about that, so it’s emotional for me because I want to do what's best for those kids, and I want to stay teaching those kids," said Debbie Chiles, who teaches early education special needs at Ericson Elementary School.

Chiles teaches three- and four-year-old kids. Next year, her classroom will become a casualty of the changes. She said some of her students will be moved to other special needs classrooms, some to be mixed in with older kids with special needs. The rest will be moved into general classrooms.

School administrators say they are working impacted staff to move into open positions within the district. They will be providing them with training and support to take advantage of those opportunities.

"Our intention with this process, even though it’s a big change and a big transition to provide people opportunity to stay with us," said Acacia Thede, Chief Human Resources Officer for San Diego Unified.

Seniority and experience will play a role in the process, so Thede said teachers should be able to find other teaching jobs with the district.

"Those folks have options. They're going to have either going to replace someone more senior, or they're moving to a different school. People will have work," Thede said.