Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools’ Exceptional Children’s Division will not participate in Special Education Day on Wednesday at the Dixie Classic Fair because it conflicts with the district’s early-release day, Brent Campbell, a spokesman for the school system. said.
Admission is free on Wednesday for people with special needs and their aides. In the past, local students with special needs have gone to the fair on Special Education Day and the program is popular with parents and students.
Mitzi Cartrette, the guardian of a special needs child at Lowrance Middle School, said in an email that “kids with special needs are often unable to go on typical field trips due to the logistics and getting to go to the fair was one outing that they all got to go to and really enjoyed.”
She said she found it hard to believe that the school system did not know the dates for the fair when it made its schedule.
“The fair is always the first full week in October and Special Ed Day is always on Wednesday,” said Cartrette. “I felt like our kids with special needs were being discriminated against.”
Campbell said that school officials know that students in the district’s Exceptional Children’s Division enjoy the fair each year.
But he said that scheduling conflicts were unavoidable this year.
“We do not set the date for the event, the Dixie Classic Fair officials set the date as the day does not just include an invitation to our students but students from multiple counties and school districts in the area,” Campbell said. “They all are invited to take advantage of the discounted/special day.”
He added that the WS/FCS Board of Education changed the 2019-2020 calendar on June 11 to move the early release day from Oct. 16 to Oct. 9, primarily for PSAT testing that involves all high schools.
“We do not and cannot control the PSAT calendar,” Campbell said. “That is the day of the test and our schools could not participate in that testing if it were an Early Release day. So the board made the decision to move it to the best possible day, which was Oct. 9, that just happened to be the day the fair had scheduled their annual fair day event.”
He said that Oct. 9 was the best option to reschedule the early release day, which must be scheduled near the end of a quarter.
“Unfortunately during an early release day we cannot get students to the fair and back to school safely and in time for an early release, so that is why the EC programs cannot participate this year,” Campbell said. ‘We can’t ask the fair to change a day that they plan for many other districts besides ours. I know many other districts also take advantage of the day and any change from the fair would impact far more than just our district.
“It is unfortunate that the dates didn’t align this year, but we hope they will in the future. It is certainly not something that was done intentionally by WS/FCS or the Dixie Classic Fair officials and something I know the board will work to do all possible to avoid in the future within their control.”
Siobhan Olson, a spokeswoman for the Dixie Classic Fair, said that school children from all over North Carolina, as well as southern Virginia, South Carolina and Tennessee attend the Special Education Day at the fair.
“We’ve had that school date forever,” Olson said of fair Wednesdays.
She said that it is unfortunate that the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools will not be able to participate this year.
“Of course, we wish that Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools were here, but we understand,” Olson said.
“We expect it to be a big day,” she said.