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Parents upset after Moore elementary school cuts pre-k class

MOORE, Okla. - Dody Mahoney has two children with cerebral palsy in the development pre-k class at Sooner Elementary.

However, Mahoney said she was stunned to learn the class is dissolving.

“It's a horrible feeling. Since I found out about this on Thursday, I have not stopped crying because, when you have a child that has all of these issues, school should be a safe place,” Mahoney said.

According to the district, the change is a result of a personnel issue. Parents said the normal long-term teacher has been in-and-out all year.

“I understand there's a teacher shortage in this state. I understand that, but you cannot tell me the Moore Public School system cannot find one long-term sub to fill this position,” Mahoney said.

"It's heartbreaking to me because our kids deserve just as much of an education as every other child and they're not able to get it because no one wants to be a special needs teacher,” said Ashley Singley, another parent.

The district said, because of the personnel issue, they are unable to hire someone new. Instead, they're moving the children to other nearby schools that have a certified special education teacher.

However, the move is worrying parents, who said they are concerned their children will be set back because of the decision.

“On Logan's IEP, he is supposed to be mainstreamed into a regular pre-k class by the end of the school year. The school that we are being adjusted to doesn't even have a pre-k class,” Mahoney said.

Moore Public Schools sent News 4 a statement, saying:

”Moore Public Schools administrators and staff work tirelessly to ensure each student is receiving the best education possible. With that goal in mind, the decision was made to relocate the students who attend the Sooner Elementary developmental pre-k program. A personnel issue arose which required numerous substitute teachers to cover the pre-k duties at Sooner. To provide the best education for those students, they are being relocated to other schools with most of them being the student’s actual home school that they will attend for the duration of their elementary years based on their current home address. The students will now receive consistent instruction from one teacher. We regret any hardship this has caused any of the families affected but are confident the education they will be receiving is optimal. As always, we will work with parents, students, and staff to make the transition as smooth as possible,” said Dustin Horstkoetter with Moore Public Schools.

But, parents feel frustrated with the last-minute decision.

“If, at the end of the school year, they have to dissolve it then, as parents, we have an entire summer to make a decision,” Mahoney said.