S/P 24 One very personal reply to a Don’t sell email – with an important correction at the end


I’ve mentioned that my daughter works at the DPSA in several posts. That is why I was particularly keen to show this email and my reply to it:

Dear School Board Members,

I am hoping you Vote No on selling Duluth Central to Edison. Why, Charter schools tend to enroll fewer students with disabilities, fewer English language learners, and less-poor population of students than do nearby public schools. Many charter operations get the students they want. “Some require character references from a religious or community leader, entry exams, or completion of lengthy forms (often only in English).

Special ed students who have left the Duluth School District always get a 1-1 paraprofessional and Duluth Public Schools. Are you aware that Duluth Public Schools are being billed for these services? Yes, there ar fifty paraprofessional working with our former students.

I know, we lost 11 students who left Congdon Park to attend Edison. IEP was written and now each of those students have a one to one paraprofessional working with them. This is where our money is going. No wonder we are in debt.

Look at it down the road. Do we want another high school to close? Would it be Denfeld or East?

I am asking for you to vote NO on selling Duluth Central to Edison.

My reply:


I appreciate your concerns and heard them more fully at Lincoln MS on Tuesday. I agree that our paras are not given the credit they deserve and find themselves too often on the chopping block. Plunging ahead in such debt as we currently face with a costly Central awaiting its seventh empty year will do nothing for the paras or ISD 709.

I have a lot to learn about developing a level playing field in special education but perhaps you have read DPSA’s explanation for how they prioritize it and spend a lot more on it than 709 does while receiving only 90% of base costs from ISD 709. My daughter got a job as a para at DPSA six or seven years ago. She loved the work so much she decided to work on a Special Ed masters and is now a teacher. We could learn a lot from the DPSA if we stop making them our enemies. And by the way, the claim that DPSA has 50 paras is fantastical.

I was elected to serve on ISD 709 and not to help the DPSA. It just so happens that in this instance both public schools have much to gain from a sale but only the ISD 709 schools have much to lose if a sale falls through.

Harry Welty

NOTE – I sent this email out on the fly. That is made partly necessary because of the massive number of emails I’m responding to – 86 on just the Central Sale alone. I told XXXXXX that the 50 paras she said Edison had was “fantastical.” After pushing “send” I got to thinking about this. I had heard it claimed that there were 50 DPSA paras that had a one-on-one relationship with Special Ed children. That would be fantastical as it would break the bank. I simply hadn’t recalled my daughter working with a cohort of 50 people. That’s because she has worked with small groups of kids, not other paras.

Then I thought about the number of folks I saw at Edison working in small groups all over the school. There could easily have been fifty of them which is a far higher ratio than ISD 709 is providing. Then I vaguely recalled hearing that 20% of Edison children (one in five) were special ed students.

When my daughter dropped by our house I asked her if there were fifty paras at Edison and she said, sure, probably. So much for my writing on the fly. I will have to send an apology to the ISD 709 para who wrote to me.

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