Backlash prompts Jordan School District reversal on special needs programs

Local News

HERRIMAN, Utah (ABC4) – The Jordan School District is reversing course on a decision to take away special needs programs at two of its high schools on Thursday. The move comes as a result of backlash from the community and parents.

The Jordan School District wanted to make classes for the life skills, special needs, and peer mentoring programs more collaborative and engaging, all while being sustainable.

Officials were looking to bus 12 students from Bingham and Herriman High Schools to Mountain Ridge, Riverton, and West Jordan High Schools.

“This is a much bigger ramification that I think people who were making the decision either thought of or didn’t think were important,” says parent Oakley Peterson.

Peterson and other parents who were upset with the decision began a petition.

More than 55,000 people have signed the pledge to keep the students where they are at.

Jordan School District’s Sandy Riesgraf told a group of parents during a press conference, “Moving forward, the special ed life skills program at all six high schools in the Jordan School District, along with the peer tutoring programs at all six high schools in the Jordan School District, will stay where they are.”

Parents and students began rejoicing in the news, clapping, and cheering immediately after the announcement.

Peterson tells us, “This is overwhelming. It’s amazing, it feels like this huge rock has been lifted off all of our chests.”

“I’m thrilled that my daughter and her friends at Bingham and the other students at Herriman will have the opportunity to be friends and classmates with the people that they want to be classmates with. It’s amazing,” says Seth King.

King says he was a peer tutor for special needs students in high school. He says he built a lifelong relationship with the student he mentored.

He adds, “That’s why I’m so passionate about it.”

A passion that is allowing students to continue to be with their friends.

“We’ve done a lot of listening and what we heard is that it is a priority to keep these students in their boundary high schools,” says Riesgraf.

Parents say this was an important issue because they wanted to show that their children belonged in their communities where they are wanted and accepted.

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