Nebraska lawmakers question why some Omaha schools are without special education

Nebraska state senators want to know why Omaha Public Schools has three schools in North Omaha without special education classes.
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 5:11 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska state legislators say some tough questions need to be asked as to why three north Omaha elementary schools won’t have special education classes this year.

School districts across the country are facing a shortage of special education teachers and Nebraska is no exception.

Certain state senators, like Sen. Danielle Conrad, want to know why Nebraska’s largest school district has three schools in some of the most challenged communities with no special education.

“I think there are key disability rights issues at stake, key education law issues at stake, and key civil rights issues at stake as well,” Conrad said. “It’s simply unacceptable that we would see a lack of services being provided to our students in need in one of the most underserved areas of our state. This should definitely raise a lot of red flags for people in the Omaha community.”

Conrad says the actions from Omaha Public Schools prompted a request for a legislative hearing to hopefully get some questions answered.

“I definitely want to point out that we haven’t seen similar headlines emanating from more well-resourced school districts or more well-resourced communities,” Conrad said. “I think we have to take a very hard and clear-eyed look at that because it does provoke a lot of questions about civil rights and about racial justice.

OPS officials said that the district doesn’t believe it’s appropriate to comment in advance of the hearing.

Part of the statement from OPS reads as follows:

“We look forward to sharing with the committee on Friday the steps that our district has already taken and possible options the state can consider to help recruit special education teachers into classrooms all across our state.”

Sen. Conrad wants to make sure everyone works together to make sure every student has the same education opportunities.

“We need to make sure nothing like this happens again and we need to make sure that these families have the services and support they need to get a great education,” Conrad said.

OPS is providing transportation for special education students so they can attend a school with the necessary resources.

The legislative hearing is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m.