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TDOE awards $1 million in special education grants to schools

The Tennessee Department of Education announced a special education grant that will allows every school district to provide “at least one teacher with a special education endorsement (SPED) for free.”
(Source: KNOE)
Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 7:07 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Tennessee Department of Education announced a special education grant that will allow every school district to provide “at least one teacher with a special education endorsement (SPED) for free.”

According to a release from the TDOE, the department has granted eight Special Education Endorsement Grants totaling $1 million, which have all been awarded to Educator Preparation Programs that will be virtual.

The release states that out of the five education preparation programs, there are nearly 200 seats available and at least one seat for an educator in the district to participate in the program. In order for teachers to participate, they have to be nominated by the district.

“This grant will help fill a need we have heard from districts across the state by ensuring more teachers can earn a special education certificate and help serve all students, particularly our most vulnerable populations, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “The department is committed to assisting districts fill these vacancies and grow their capacity to serve students with special needs.”

This is the fourth grant TDOE has awarded to schools recently, including “an additional $1 million IDEA Innovation grant to support districts in implementing innovative ways to remediate loss of instruction for students with disabilities, $5 million through IDEA part B funding formula to provide compensatory services, and a $1 million Technology Partnership Grant to address technology needs that are a result of COVID-19 school closures.”

“In Tipton County, we are grateful for the opportunity to have a local educator participate in this program, free of charge, and address a critical need of serving our special population students,” said Dr. John Combs, Director of Tipton County Schools. “This is just another way the department is helping partner with districts to address vacancies and provide supports as we all prepare for the upcoming school year.”

Virtual Educator Preparation Programs have been awarded to Austin Peay State University, Carson-Newman University, Lincoln Memorial University, Tennessee State University, and Tennessee Tech University.

“We are pleased to partner with the state in providing quality coursework that prepares teachers to fill much needed places in special education classrooms. Our state has done an excellent job of tracking data to determine district needs with regard to staffing, and they stepped up by providing a mechanism to help meet these needs,” said Dr. Kim Hawkins, Dean of School of Education, Carson-Newman University. “We received notification of this award on a Monday afternoon, and Tuesday morning, phone calls began to pour in from districts. School systems are excited for this opportunity, and we are equally excited to be part of it.”

According to the release teachers participating in the endorsement program will receive free services, “Costs for the program will be funded through the supplemental use of federal IDEA discretionary funds.”

Programming, which will all be done online, is set to begin this fall semester.

For more information on these grants, you can visit the TDOE’s Coronavirus Resources page or Reopening Guidance page.

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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