Teachers union calls for removal of GRPS Special Ed leader

The MEA is taking issue with Grand Rapids Public School's Special Education Program. The union said they will take legal action, as well as voicing their concerns to the Department of Education and the Department of Health.

A major teachers union is issuing demands regarding the special education program at Grand Rapids Public schools.

The Grand Rapids office of the Michigan Education Association calls the conditions with that program "dangerous" and the MEA wants the head of the program removed. But the district, has responded to those claims, and says the accusations are false.

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The MEA has a nine page petition that lists a number of issues with the Special Education Department within Grand Rapids Public Schools, however the bottom line, the union is calling for the removal of the executive director of special education.

"There is absolutely nothing in this that's not about the kids. There is not a nickel to be gained by any employee here," MEA UniServ Director Mike Stephens said.

The MEA said Laura LaMore has got to go.

"We ask for the removal of Laura LaMore. Not the firing of Laura LaMore," Stephens said.

The list of grievances include safety violations, improper placement and inadequate staffing.

"And all of this is documented, we can provide evidence of it, there's violations of laws, codes, various standards," Stephens said.

Students in the special education program are given an individualized education program (IEP) tailored to that student's specific needs.

"We've had staff ordered by special ed management to changed IEPs from emotional impaired, to autistic, to whatever. That's a federal document," Stephens said.

One parent said her son's IEP, along with others in the class, were changed without the parent's knowledge.

"His placement was changed from a mild cognitively impaired program, to a resource program and I didn't find out until after the IEP was changed and I found out by pure accident," parent Brenda Bierens said.

She said LaMore called her and offered her an apology.

"We've gone to the board, we've gone to Ms. LaMore, we've gone above her and we're talking to deaf ears," Bierens said.

Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent said the students are always a priority.

"These children deserve every opportunity to be successful, now is that going to cause some people to be unhappy? Absolutely, change is hard," Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal said.

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She said she will not remove LaMore from her position.

"Laura has awesome skills, she's exactly what we need, she's a member of my cabinet, a trusted member of my cabinet," Weatherall Neal said.

The issues raised by the union, GRPS said, has already been addressed.

"If there is something that we are not doing, we have fixed it, we will fix it, we are in the process, we want to continue to work together," Weatherall Neal said.

But as far as LaMore's job is concerned, she will remain in her position.

"The majority of the issues and concerns raised by MEA and anyone else against Laura LaMore are absolutely false," Weatherall Neal said.

The MEA said it will take legal action, and the next step will be bringing concerns to the Department of Education and the Department of Health.

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