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RCSD, parents react after sudden departure of special education program head

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. - Both the Rochester City School District and parents of special needs children say they’re concerned about the future of the district’s special education department following the sudden departure of Theresa Wood, who headed the program for two months before leaving this week.

Daisy Hospedales says she worries for special needs son, Elijah, every time he leaves for school.

“I always have my phone with me, because they may call me any second,” said Hospedales. “I'm worried he's not getting his needs met at school. I'm worried about how he's getting treated.”

She says she’s not surprised to hear Wood left the department so soon, saying she believes the program is mismanaged.

Carlos Garcia, the assistant to the superintendent of RCSD, says the district has received concerns regarding its special education department.

He says the department is lacking qualified teachers, and that’s putting a strain on the program.

“We need certified teachers, and we’re not the only ones. This is a nationwide issue,” said Garcia. “Not just that there aren’t enough, the pool of applicants is small at this moment. We want to make sure people know there is a need.”

But parents like Hospedales say they’ve heard that before.

“I heard the same excuse at one of the meetings, I heard it a couple months ago, I've heard over a year ago,” Hospedales said.

For now, she remains concerned for her son and his classmates, fearing they’re going to suffer from the special needs program being in need of more certified teachers.

Garcia says it’s unclear why Wood left her job after two months. 13WHAM tried contacting Wood several times for a comment Wednesday night, but was unable to reach her.

He says principal Brenda Pacheco will help lead the program for now, saying she’ll help with teacher recruitment, among other things.

The district is holding a teacher recruiting event this Saturday, Feb. 10 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at its district offices at 131 W. Broad St.

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