Charter school gets final warning

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Students in Dinosaur may be shopping for a new school during the holiday break.

The Moffat County School District Board of Education on Thursday night voted unanimously to revoke the charter school's contract for non-compliance.

The school serves about 50 students from kindergarten through seventh grade from Dinosaur, Rangely, and Vernal, Utah.

The school board gave charter school officials one last chance to keep the school open; they have until Dec. 15 to tie up loose ends in a plan to provide services to students who need speech, language and occupational therapy.

On Oct. 27, the board gave the school three weeks to implement the plan. The school district received a plan Wednesday, but deemed it incomplete.

"There are some good ideas in Dinosaur's plan, but there are some loose ends," Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan said.

The charter school will contract with former Moffat County teacher Lisa Sperl-Bondy, who, with a second certified speech/language pathologist from Utah, will make monthly visits to oversee speech and language services.

The school's director of student services, Edie Jansen, would administer those services.

Moffat County's director of student services, Christine Villard, said Jansen isn't qualified to administer those services. Jansen's training doesn't qualify her to teach articulation, voice use or fluency, she said. Jansen is enrolled in a University of Northern Colorado program that would make her qualified. She expects to begin work on a master's degree in speech pathology in 2007.

The charter school also will contract with a Utah professional to provide occupational-therapy assessments and services.

Sheridan said the district, which is responsible for ensuring the charter school complies with state and federal laws, needs proof, not promises.

"We've seen several plans that didn't work out," he said. "We need contracts. We're not asking to have Colorado licenses in hand, but we're asking that the application process be initiated immediately."

Jansen said she thinks the charter school is complying with the requirements of state and federal laws and that the Moffat County School District is asking for more than that.

"Every district in the nation is suffering shortages of these specialists. That's why they're using paraprofessionals to administer services," she said.

She said the state allows a paraprofessional to work with students under the supervision of a licensed specialist.

Sheridan said the charter school is being held to the same standards as any other Moffat County School.

If the district doesn't have documentation that the charter school is in compliance by Dec. 15, the school will be closed Dec. 21.

School district officials said they're willing to meet with charter school officials to hammer out any problems.

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