Cheered by families and staff, students at specialized school mark new chapter in their education

Three graduating seniors from the Harris County Department of Education’s Academic and Behavior School West were recognized, and more than two dozen students were promoted to middle school and high school at a graduation ceremony Wednesday that drew parents and staff from area school districts.

AB West Principal Victor Keys, joined by HCDE Superintendent James Colbert Jr. and Assistant Superintendent Jonathan Parker, praised the students and their families for overcoming obstacles, and thanked all who had provided support along the way.
“Our students have worked really hard and they have done an outstanding job getting along,” Keys said. “We have a saying here: ‘without them there is no us’.”

HCDE’s AB campuses serve students who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and have been referred by their home campus’s Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) committee. Each classroom at an AB campus is staffed with a highly qualified, certified teacher and an educational aide who serve up to six students – providing small group instruction.

Colbert praised the school’s leadership, teachers, and educational aides – as well as the students’ families.

“I just want to say a big thank you to parents. We appreciate the support you provide to the students every single day,” Colbert said. “We have a staff that is absolutely dedicated to serving our fine school districts. We are extremely fortunate to have such dedicated staff who absolutely love your children.”

In 2015-2016, more than 800 students from Harris County school districts were served at a specialized HCDE-operated campus, where 100 percent of students are considered to be at-risk. HCDE also provides special education services through school-based therapists who travel to campuses, homes, or wherever students receive their education.

Photo: Graduate Sandra Smith celebrates her success with HCDE leaders. Other 2017 graduating seniors not pictured are Diego Sanchez and Claressa Jackson.

About Harris County Department of Education: HCDE helps school districts in the state’s largest county meet the needs of uniquely challenged learners, directly serving students at their schools or one of four HCDE-operated campuses across the county. Learn about these services and more at www.hcde-texas.org .

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