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Teacher shortage forces Erie 1 BOCES to cut down Extended School Year program

Posted at 9:47 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-22 13:00:59-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Parents with special education students in the Erie 1 BOCES Extended School Year (ESY) program received notice that half of the students have been unenrolled due to teacher shortages.

"When I saw this, I was like oh my goodness, what am I going to do? I contacted the special education department. I spoke to the superintendent. I spoke with the school psychologist. Everyone is baffled. They don't know what to do," Madelyn Henry, a mother of a 9-year-old Maryvale student who was unenrolled from ESY this summer, said.

Henry said she received a letter and email from the Maryvale School District saying, "Erie 1 BOCES sent out an email to the directors of special education in our region stating that the ESY cannot be fully staffed on their end and must therefore cut down the roster of students attending drastically."

"30 children of 60 were cut," Henry said.

ESY is a 6-week program that runs from the beginning of July to mid-August. Henry's son has participated in the special education program for the past six years to prevent summer slide.

"What happens with the special education students is that they regress. The regress behaviorally, cognitively, speech, OT, and PT. Sometimes that regression is so severe that they come back in September playing catch up," Henry said.

Erie 1 BOCES said in a statement to 7 News:

"Erie 1 BOCES will be providing an extended school year program as a service to school districts for approximately 600 students with special needs in Erie County. The program will be held at three different locations across the county from July 5 through August 12 in partnership with our component school districts. Erie 1 BOCES has successfully provided this extended school year program for a number of years. We are experiencing the same national, regional and local issue of staffing shortages that, at this time, has impacted our capacity to provide program offerings for all requests. Erie 1 BOCES is committed to continue seeking qualified staff to fill all requests of our component districts. We look forward to working collaboratively with our school partners to address these staffing storages."

Henry said her, and other parents, are at a loss as to what to do with their kids this summer.

"I don't have [a plan]. I have to go by the seat of my pants. That's not really a great plan for a child who needs routine," Henry said.

Orleans Niagara BOCES said their regional summer program, for students who failed classes during the school year, is good staffing wise right now. They said that could change next week depending on how many teachers confirm they'll be teaching in the summer program. As for its special education program, a spokesperson tells 7 News they are very short-staffed and are turning away about 40 district students due to the shortage.