Fifth Annual Special Education Conference draws hundreds of parents, HISD staff 

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More than 900 parents and members of Team HISD filled Kingdom Builders’ Center on Tuesday to kick off the district’s Fifth Annual Special Education Conference.

The two-day conference, themed Engage, Restore and Support Every Student, focused on arming participants with new and effective instructional, compliance and behavioral strategies.

“We have come a long way from our very first conference with approximately 70 attendees,” Senior Manager of Special Education Services Kelli Charles said. “It is my hope that you leave here ready to give your absolute best to the students who needed it the most and ready to elevate HISD’s special education services.”

Several announcements were made at Tuesday’s general session including the appointment of Dr. S. Lachlin Verrett as the Assistant Superintendent of the Office of Special Education.

A familiar face at HISD, Verrett has served more than 10 years with the district and joins the department after leading Leadership Development department.

HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan also shared the strides HISD has made to improve the district’s special education initiatives, including a study the district commissioned in December 2016 to assess the strengths and areas in need of improvement with respect to special education.

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As part of the district’s commitment to improving outcomes for students with disabilities, Dr. Lathan announced that the district will be hiring more than 75 new dyslexia coordinator positions.

“We know we still have some areas where we could serve our students better, and we’re committed to making that improvement for them and their families,” Lathan said.

As the conference came to a close on Wednesday afternoon, HISD Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones addressed participants at a special luncheon to express the importance on why the district should continue to keep open lines of communication between the district, students, and their families.

“Parents play an integral part in setting the course for the district in how we better serve our students,” Skillern-Jones said.

To get behind-the-scenes footage of this year’s conference visit Twitter and follow hashtag #HISDSped18.