Special needs kids sought

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 7, 2014

Just because it is summer doesn’t mean officials with school systems in Covington County are taking it easy. This week, officials from the Covington County, Andalusia City and Opp City school systems are reaching out to the public in hopes of helping children with any kind of disability get a jump start on the 2014-15 school year.

“In accordance with the Individuals With Disabilities Act, Andalusia City Schools, Covington County Schools and Opp City Schools announce ongoing Child Find activities to locate, identify and evaluate children with disabilities from birth to 21 years of age,” officials said in a recent release.

Ted Watson, superintendent of the Andalusia City School system, said the program is part of an overall effort to give students, specifically younger children, an academic head start.

“We have been in the process of doing this program,” Watson said. “We try to find kids who are in need of services and reach out to help them to adapt and get them ready for school.”

Watson said the program is a great way to lead into the system’s first preschool program, slated to begin this fall.

“We haven’t had a designated preschool program before,” Watson said. “We were awarded a grant very similar to what Opp and Covington County were in order to have one preschool class with a teacher and an aide in the classroom. That will help with this (Child Find) program. It’s all about trying to get kids into school, keep them in school and help them graduate.”

Watson said any level of preschool program is a great way to give kids, with or without disabilities, a solid educational beginning.

“We’re excited about that,” he said. “The earlier we get (the students), the better.”

Officials are asking that anyone who is aware of an individual, 21 years of age or younger, who is suffering from a disability and is not currently enrolled in a public school program, contact the proper school staff member, identified as: Jenny Watson, 222.1224, ext. 306 – for children ages 3 to 5 residing within the Andalusia City Schools district; Sonja Hines, 222.3186, ext. 5 – for students ages 6 to 21 residing within the Andalusia City Schools district; Kelly McCollough, 427.3819 – for anyone, 12 years of age or younger, residing within the Covington County School district; or Sharon Spurlin, 493.3173 – for anyone, 21 years of age or younger, residing within the Opp City School district.