This week Monday, the Wayne County Board of Education approved a stand-alone Community Developmental School Program (CDSP) in the middle school area to better support students with significant cognitive disabilities. Beginning in August 2021, eleven rising 6th grade students from the CDSP program at Meadow Lane Elementary and eight rising 6th and 7th grade students from Edgewood Community Developmental School will be brought together to make up a new middle grades CDSP at Greenwood Middle.
Two years ago, Wayne County Public Schools launched a stand-alone CDSP at Meadow Lane Elementary, welcoming approximately 70 students, Pre-K through 4th grade, from Edgewood Community Developmental School. The move gave the elementary CDSP students the opportunity to receive individualized care in state of the art classrooms and physical and occupational therapy areas while also receiving their education on a campus with non-disabled peers as Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) allow. Administrators say the Meadow Lane Elementary students and staff immediately embraced the CDSP students, and built a successful model for how a stand-alone CDS Program can meaningfully operate on a traditional school campus.
“We have heard nothing but good things from families who have children enrolled in the elementary CDSP at Meadow Lane Elementary,” states Dr. David Lewis, interim superintendent. “Launching a middle school CDSP at Greenwood Middle will ensure students and families can continue receiving the same high level of services they have grown accustomed to. By including the eight students from Edgewood in the program, we are better aligning the middle grades CDS Program with the goals and mandates of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by providing opportunities for these students to interact with their non-disabled peers in the least restrictive environment.”
School psychologists, occupational and physical therapists, Exceptional Children’s Department administrators, school administrators and district leadership and staff began meeting last fall to explore options for CDSP students transitioning from Meadow Lane Elementary to a middle grades program. It was determined that the inclusion of the eight students from Edgewood would create an opportunity to merge both programs into one stand-alone middle grades CDSP. Greenwood Middle was selected because it is immediately located across the street from Meadow Lane Elementary and will allow for traditional and CDSP elementary students to transition together into middle school. Greenwood Middle also has a newer ADA compliant wing built around a decade ago which has four large classrooms and a nurse’s office, offers its own exterior entrance for parents, and will only require the addition of an exterior sidewalk awning and some minor renovations to the restrooms in order to add lifts and changing tables.
“To help limit transitions for students, we have opted not to move the remaining eight rising 8th grade students at Edgewood and to allow them to remain with the high school CDS Program,” states Dr. Marcia Manning, assistant superintendent for student services. “For those students transitioning to the CDSP at Greenwood Middle, we will provide a wrap around transition approach involving all three principals as IEPs are updated this spring. Families will also be invited to tour the wing at Greenwood Middle and see their child’s classroom.”
In 1967, the First Presbyterian Church in Goldsboro launched a community program in a basement classroom to help developmentally delayed children improve physically, socially and emotionally. In 1972, the program received a federal grant for an administrator and staff. The program was moved to the former Greenleaf School and was named the Community Developmental School. The following year the Community Developmental School was moved to the former Walnut Street School. In 1983, the Community Developmental School was moved to the former Edgewood School campus, becoming Edgewood Community Developmental School. In 2019, elementary students, Pre-K through 4th grade, from Edgewood were moved to a new stand-alone Community Developmental School Program (CDSP) at the new Meadow Lane Elementary. The move gave the elementary CDSP students the opportunity to receive individualized care in state of the art classrooms and physical and occupational therapy areas. The move also allowed elementary CDSP students for the first time to receive their education on a traditional campus with non-disabled peers as Individualized Education Plans allow.
“The CDS Program has a special place in Wayne County Public Schools,” states Sonja Emerson, executive director of the Exceptional Children’s Department. “Just as we would no longer want students with disabilities tucked away in a basement classroom as was done over 50 years ago, keeping children at a separate school to isolate them from their non-disabled peers is also an antiquated developmental model that is now discouraged by the U.S. Department of Education. The goals and mandates of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are clear, and we have seen firsthand the success that an innovative stand-alone CDSP model located on a traditional school campus can have for both children with significant disabilities and the traditional students who now have the opportunity to learn and grow with them.”