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District 51 eliminating three adaptive physical education positions

Codi Mendenhall has cerebral palsy, but her mom says adaptive P.E. teachers have helped her...
Codi Mendenhall has cerebral palsy, but her mom says adaptive P.E. teachers have helped her develop in all kinds of athletics(KKCO/KJCT)
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 4:49 PM MDT|Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 7:18 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - District 51 is eliminating three staff positions for adaptive physical education teachers. The school district will retain just one teacher in that position, while some regular P.E. teachers will transition towards working with special education students.

Parents learned of the plan last week to eliminate those positions. This week, 29 families sent a petition to the school district asking them to reconsider.

Jen Mendenhall’s daughter is currently in the D51 online program. Codi Mendenhall has cerebral palsy, but her mom says adaptive PE teachers have helped Codi develop in all kinds of athletics, from rock climbing to skiing, to baseball, bowling, and more.

The parent group wants to see more of an effort made towards special education as a whole, but they say this decision would force regular PE teachers to step into a completely different role.

“There’s a lot of responsibility that’s put on those teachers,” Mendenhall says. “They need the support of the administration and their classroom teachers, to be able to do their jobs without being completely burnt out.

District 51 says two of those positions, which will eventually be eliminated, are going to remain next year. They will help out in a transition period next year, meant to help other physical education teachers adjust.

The district says the decision was driven by a desire to improve P.E. across the board both for special education and non-special-education students. District 51 also clarified that adaptive physical education teachers do not need any type of certification to teach special education students.

Parents who have a child in adaptive P.E. will receive a letter either Wednesday night or some time Thursday, where the district will further explain their decision and how it will impact those students in the future.

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