Citing low enrollment as well as current budget limitations, the San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus has decided to place the Special Education Internship Credential Program on hiatus for a year, officials said, cautioning that there is no guarantee that the program will definitely return in fall 2013.
Administrators have said they intend to assess the needs and demands of the program in the interim.
The low enrollment numbers for the credential program also mirror a trend that has seen the number of students enrolling in the campus’ education division courses drop “dramatically” over the past five years, said Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Michael Sabath.
“We don’t like the idea of suspending a program,” Sabath said, “but sometimes we can’t avoid it.”
Enrollment in the credential program had been limited to 12-15 students on average, a number that proved too low to sustain the program.
“Our decisions are enrollment driven,” said SDSU-IVC Dean David Pearson, referring to actions that affect how a program or major on campus is managed. Discussions about placing the program on hold had initially begun in December, he said.
Any savings incurred from the program’s temporary shuttering could not be quantified, Sabath said.
The program’s temporary shuttering is not expected to impact four program candidates that are employed with Imperial County Office of Education, said ICOE Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Angela McNeece. SDSU-IV administrators had “assured” that the students would be able to finish the remaining coursework needed to attain their special education certification, McNeece said.
Although the decision came as “disappointing” news, “it is understandable in this fiscal economy,” McNeece said.
Although no new candidates will be allowed to enroll until the campus decides whether to bring the program back next year, and the temporary hiatus is not expected to impact the program’s currently enrolled candidates, students currently enrolled in the program’s prerequisite courses are not technically considered program candidates.
After spending more than $1,000 to enroll in two prerequisite courses for the credential program, special education substitute teacher Oscar Gonzalez said he and classmates were notified of the program’s hiatus in late March. Campus officials had also told the 28-year-old El Centro resident that he should continue attending the prerequisite courses, he said.
Yet, Gonzalez questions the wisdom of attending classes if there is no guarantee that the program will indeed be in place after a year’s hiatus, he said.
“It’s a waste of time and gas money,” Gonzalez said. “I just want my money back so that I can move on to another program.”
Currently employed under an emergency credential with ICOE, Gonzalez said he will likely look for another program in order to complete his special education credential. He was also told that his money wouldn’t be refunded, he said.
The campus’ credential program was initially created in the early 1990s with input from the main campus and the Imperial County Special Education Local Plan Area. The program, which typically required 2 1/2 years of coursework, had also been maintained over the years with the aid of federal funding, according to documents provided by program co-coordinator Audrey McFaddin.
Staff Writer, Copy Editor Julio Morales can be reached at 760-335-4665 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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