Spalding County teacher not certified to teach special needs students, not being removed from class

The mother of a student who has autism is demanding answers from the Spalding County School District after receiving a letter from the elementary school saying her child's teacher is not certified to teach students with special needs.

Sandra Finley's 10-year-old son, Andrew is non-verbal and has autism. Several days ago, she got a letter from Moore Elementary School about his special needs teacher that has her worried about sending him to school.  

The letter explains that Andrew's teacher is not currently certified to teach special education, but is working towards that certification. To Finley, this news is a red flag, especially halfway through the school year.

"I was upset because we've already had issues with this teacher, and I voiced my concerns and voiced my concerns, and they say they'll look into it," said Finley. "But, I never get a call back."

Finley said the lack of response by the school is worrisome. She said she just wants what's right for her son and the other special needs students.

"If they're that bad and short staffed and can't get teachers in there, they need to reevaluate how they do things for special needs kids," said Finley.

Finley is asking the teacher be taken out of the classroom until she's properly certified. FOX 5 reached out to Spalding County Schools for comment, but did not get a response to Finley's questions.

"I do want something done," said Finley. "It's not that I'm trying to cause problems for anybody, but again, I'm his voice, and if I'm not speaking for my child, who is?" said Finley.

The mother has a scheduled meeting with the school board on Tuesday to discuss her concerns. She said, in the meantime, she hopes the school will bring in certified teaching assistants to ensure her child and the other students are being properly cared for.

Kimberly Willis Green released the following statement on behalf of the Griffin-Spalding County School System:

“The Griffin-Spalding County School System (GSCS) routinely sends parent notifications regarding teacher qualifications throughout the year as students enroll. The student at Moore Elementary enrolled later in the school year as a fourth grader. Because of his grade level and late enrollment, his record was flagged for a parent letter based on the teacher’s current qualifications. Moving forward, the district will review current processes and procedures to ensure that all schedule variations for students enrolling after the start of the school year are identified in order to notify parents of teacher professional qualifications.

“Additionally, while the teacher is working towards obtaining a clear renewable teaching certificate in special education through the Teacher Alternative Preparation Program, the district has provided 11 professional learning sessions and three direct support sessions from the GSCS Special Education staff. These sessions are designed to provide new special education teachers with the specialized training needed to meet the unique needs of their students.”