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Metro Nashville Public Schools Engages Spectrum Center Schools and Programs to Open School for Students with Special Needs

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-06-09 - Nashville Schools (MNPS) will open program to provide academic and behavioral services for students in grades 9-12 who have emotional disturbance behavior issues or developmental disabilities - Spectrum Center Schools and Programs.

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Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) will open a new program this fall to provide intensive academic and behavioral services for students in grades nine through 12 who have emotional disturbance, serious behavior issues or developmental disabilities.

Metro voted at its April 13 board meeting to engage Spectrum Center Schools and Programs to establish Spectrum Academy to provide technology-based academic instruction, social and life skills counseling, and behavioral support services for students with disabilities who are referred by MNPS. Spectrum Academy will also help with employment and career development so students can successfully transition to life after high school, Gail Debiec, Spectrum chief operating officer, said.

Spectrum, a division of Nashville-based Educational Services of America (ESA), has operated state-certified schools and integrated collaborative classrooms on public school campuses for more than 35 years. Spectrum serves nearly 100 school districts and is one of California's largest private providers of services for students with special needs, including autism.

"Metro sought an intensive, structured academic and behavioral program to serve students with emotional disturbance, which is a legal handicapping condition, or developmental disabilities in a specialized facility," Metro assistant superintendent Linda DePriest said. "We selected Spectrum because of its high-quality, research-supported best practices, data-driven instruction and 35-year history of successful student outcomes. Our students will benefit from Spectrum Academy's low student:teacher ratio, rigorous academics and strong behavior support systems."

Students who have Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and are referred to Spectrum Academy typically will be several grade levels behind academically and have exhibited serious repetitive behavior problems such as truancy, disrupting class, profanity or fighting, DePriest said.

"An important component of Spectrum Academy is the use of positive behavior interventions and supports to proactively promote social and academic success. This creates a positive school culture that inspires students to do their best and prepare to transition to life after high school," Debiec said.

"The MNPS board and leadership are truly committed to helping students with special needs," Mark Claypool, president and CEO of ESA, said. "We value the trust they place in us to serve their students."

According to MNPS, the five-year contract is not to exceed $9.2 million. For more information about Spectrum Center and Spectrum Academy, please visit

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