NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- A few months ago, the New Hanover County School Board decided to redistrict schools in the area, shuffling more than three thousand students into different schools. Now, those changes are giving some special education students a special opportunity. "The expectation now is that they're instructed on grade level. This is very different from what's been expected in the past", says County Schools Special Education Services Director, Bill Trant. Trant says dozens of special education students are being transferred into regular classrooms. They're kids with mild learning disabilities that he says could benefit from working with others their own age and learn age-appropriate material. Schools like Wrightsboro Elementary has already integrated some of their special ed students... and teachers say it's working. "So far, it's worked great. I have three great success stories. All three children have been successful. In fact, one even moved up into a higher math group", says Barbara Mack, a fourth grade teacher at Wrightsboro. There is some concern, mostly from parents, that the special education students just won't fit in. But, teachers say that's not the case. "It depends on their disabilities", says Mack. "I can see where it's not going to work for everybody because some kids will not fit into a normal classroom. Every kid's different. You won't really know if it's going to work until you've experimented with the program." County administrators say they have competent teachers and support staff who make sure every special education student gets the help they need. Right now, four elementary schools in New Hanover County have integrated special education students into regular classrooms. In the future, administrators say they'd like to move even more students, at more schools.
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