COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus City Schools announced Friday there will be changes to the districts’ special education program, specifically when it comes to the transition coordinators.

According to Columbus Education Association, the union representing education professionals in Columbus, 21 of the 26 transition coordinators will be moved to other positions, leaving special education teachers who are “already overworked” to pick up their duties. 

“I picked up a student who was at a homeless shelter for a week in order to get her to school. It is those kinds of things. I picked up and went to a shelter and got her food for her family at Christmas time. It’s those safety nets and the services that we provide that will be eliminated and can’t ever be replaced,” said Maria Angel, a current transition coordinator. 

The district also announced the Gifted Resource Specialists who work with teachers on programming for gifted students will be moved to fill other positions within the program. 

“This decision will result in loss of services for some of our most vulnerable students,” said CEA President John Coneglio in a press release. “This is a shortsighted plan designed to obscure a staffing crisis by playing ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ with funded positions rather than hiring the necessary additional educators.”

The district released the following statement on Tuesday: 

“Columbus City Schools is not eliminating or reducing the services and enrichment programs provided to students with specialized needs or to students identified as Gifted and Talented. In accordance with Article 211 of the CEA Agreement, Columbus City Schools has begun the annual process of aligning its certificated staffing for the 2020-2021 school year. As part of this process, the District’s Academic Services Department is restructuring the work of its staff in order to expand targeted supports and direct services to students in the classroom. Columbus City Schools is committed to increasing equity across the District by offering higher quality programming and enrichment to more students.”

CEA is requesting concerned residents and all of their members attend the next school board meeting Tuesday, March 3.