SAN ANTONIO – The Judson Independent School District is defending an occupational and life skills program that it says better prepares special education students for life outside of school.
A viewer who snapped a photo of special-needs students sweeping the halls of Judson High School questioned whether such activity provides the students any benefit.
"I think people have to understand that some kids need more skills than a regular high school curriculum," said Kate Patterson, assistant director of special education for JISD.
The district's occupational skills classes are mostly for special education students ages 18 to 22 who have completed their graduation requirements, Patterson said.
In the class, students learn how to perform tasks such as paper shredding, folding pamphlets, folding laundry, drilling nails, vacuuming and how to make a sandwich.
"(We teach them) something (as) simple as folding papers or assembly-type work," Patterson said. "So they learn the repetition of the skill to be able to go out and obtain employment."
The occupational classroom also includes a mock grocery story aisle that instructors use to teach students how to stock shelves, grocery shop or identify certain foods.
"If they're in a group home or with their parents and they're making dinner, they might say, ‘Can you get me what we need for spaghetti from the pantry,'" Patterson said. "So we're teaching them what they need to get, where to go to get it, what it looks like.
"They have a better opportunity when they leave our program to make it on their own or almost on their own."