Krabi School in Võru County, which was closed Sunday, could no longer continue operating as there were so many shortcomings in the school's everyday operations as well as its administration that the ministry had to get involved, said Kristin Hollo, director of the External Evaluation Department of the Ministry of Education and Research.
A Ministry of Education regulation entered into force on March 1 forcing the closure of a school for children with special educational needs (SEN) in the Rõuge Municipality village of Krabi. While it was stated in the directive that the ministry would guarantee spots in other schools for all Krabi School students, many students no longer had a certain school to go to as of Monday.
Parents of several children for whom new schools had not yet been found spoke of their concerns on Saturday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" news broadcast.
Hollo said that new school opportunities had already been found for the majority of children from the closed school, and exact information exists regarding where they would continue their studies. There are, however, still children regarding whom final decisions are still in the process of being made.
"Today and tomorrow some children and parents will be meeting with schools in order to find the most suitable solution for them," Hollo said on Vikerraadio's "Uudis+" on Monday.
According to the ministry official, finding a new school for some of the students may take longer, as some students' needs "are relatively particular."
"What also played a part was the fact that parents perhaps hoped that something would happen, that perhaps this decision wasn't final and perhaps Krabi School could continue operating," she continued. "We have said on our part that this chance did not exist."
Official: This wasn't a SEN children's school
Hollo noted that some of the former school's students could go on studying at regular schools, as not all students at Krabi School had serious special educational needs.
"Both the school and we ourselves have seen that this wasn't actually a SEN children's school," she said. "What was unique about the school was that it included a boarding school, and people with very diverse backgrounds studied there. There were students who can continue their studies at regular schools; there were students from different parts of Estonia — this wasn't a regular local school where only Southern Estonian children studied."
According to Hollo, several children will have the opportunity to continue their studies at their own local schools, and receive additional support on site.
On the other hand, however, there have been difficulties in finding schools, as schools themselves lack sufficient resources to accept a student with special educational needs.
"As each child has their own story and own special needs, and schools likewise have their own story, then we can't say that every school is willing to accept every child," the ministry official said. "The school assesses its resources and its opportunities and it may not be possible to accept a child right away. I can't say that the transitions have been very simple for everyone — they've certainly been difficult for the children."
Too many shortcomings
According to Hollo, a school can be considered a SEN school if all of its students have severe special educational needs, and under this definition, Krabi School did not qualify as a SEN school. This was not the reason, however, why the Ministry of Education decided to close down the school.
"What was specific about Krabi School was the fact that there were a great deal of shortcomings, and they were in various areas," she explained. "Also how the school handled their shortcomings. As there were so many shortcomings, and it was not evident from an administrative and planning perspective that the administration was actively involved in addressing them, the situation arose in which we saw that it's not possible to quickly fix these issues. The school's activity cannot continue in an unlawful situation, which means that we were left with no other choice but to get involved."
Hollo was unable to say what would become of the school building, as it does not belong to the Ministry of Education and Research.
Editor: Aili Vahtla