Behavioral problems leading to big changes for elementary school in Sandy

SANDY, Utah - Some serious behavioral issues with children in the special education program at Sprucewood Elementary School in Sandy have had a lot of parents concerned.

Canyon School District administrators said there is no need to worry, because they have a plan, which they presented Tuesday night in a private meeting at the school. Both faculty and parents attended, including parents of the children having behavioral issues.

Parents like Chip Hopper said their children have told him students in the school can be, "[A] little bit out of control, running up and down the halls and swearing and hitting teachers and children." Hopper said it makes his third and fifth graders, "Uncomfortable a little bit to be there."

In some cases, special education students tear artwork off the walls or cause other damage to the building.

Canyon School District Spokesman Jeff Haney said since hearing concerns from parents and the principal, the superintendent got involved and visited the school himself. In a short time he said they came up with a plan.

The plan is to create smaller classes with increased staff. Some special education students will be moved to other schools in the district. They also want to add full-time special education staff and a part time social worker, but that may be difficult.

“We’re struggling to find teachers who have a specialty in special education," Haney said, adding that is due to the national teacher shortage, and the shortage of special education teachers and aids.

Hopper said he thinks the proposed changes are a good plan. "It will be interesting to see if they’re able to implement the plan," he said.

Haney explained if they can ensure individualized attention in an appropriate learning environment for special education students, everyone will benefit.

“We’re committed to making it work," Haney said. "We’re committed to making sure that every child in the canyon school district is afforded that free, appropriate education.”

As for the meeting Hopper said, “It seemed like the meeting overall had a very positive feel by the end. Obviously a lot of parents here are frustrated it’s taken so long to start to take action on some of these things, but my sense from the meeting was people were satisfied with the plan that he presented.”