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Nashua school board to debate plan for unruly students

NASHUA — Elm Street School is hoping to hire a new teacher for its alternative room to make sure students who are removed from regular classes for disruptive behavior keep up with academic work.

The Board of Education will review a recommendation from its Human Resources Subcommittee to hire a certified teacher for the alternative room at the board’s next meeting on June 26.

All three of Nashua’s middles schools have alternative rooms staffed by paraprofessionals for disruptive students and students who are on in-house suspensions. However, while Fairgrounds and Pennichuck school administrators feel their alternative rooms are working, Elm Street School’s new principal, Michael Fredericksen, has asked the board to consider hiring a certified teacher for that school’s alternative room.

Fredericksen would like to model Elm Street’s alternative room on the in-house suspension centers at Nashua’s high schools, which are staffed by certified teachers. He has proposed cutting a library assistant, a secretary and the current paraprofessional who works in the alternative room and replacing them with one certified teacher, preferably with some background in special education. Eliminating the three positions would make the new hire revenue neutral.

Schools are not allowed to suspend special education students for more than 10 days each year. Nashua has been out of compliance with that law and is looking for options for disruptive and suspended students.

Board member Kimberly Muise said staffing Elm Street’s alternative room with a certified teacher would give students a chance to maintain their grades. And, Muise said, there would be other benefits

“Unfortunately if you tell children they can get away from doing schoolwork by bad behavior, that’s enough to reinforce the bad behavior,” she said. “If they’re going to a place where they’re still going to be in front of a teacher, and required to do the work, I think that takes away some of the incentive of the bad behavior.”The Human Resources Committee is also recommending that the board approve Adam Rozumek as the director of adult and community education for a salary of $80,000.Board members will also review recommendations from the Budget and Finance Committee to approve spending $345,490 for 423 new desktop computers, 56 monitors and network support equipment.

The Budget and Finance Committee is also recommending that the board approve a $141,329 contract with ABC Therapy for physical therapy services for 2014 and a $668,144 contract with Clark Associates for occupational therapy services.

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