Brevard second grader closer to getting therapist in class

School board moves forward with crafting new policy on RBTs

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A father fighting the Brevard Public School Board over allowing his son's behavioral therapist on school grounds won a victory on Tuesday.

Jon Pogar's 7-year-old son, Andrew, was diagnosed with seronegative autoimmune encephalitis two years ago.

Since then, he said his son has become nonverbal and he has displayed symptoms commonly associated with autism.

Over the past several months, Pogar said he has been trying to get his son's registered behavior therapist (RBT) on campus, but he said the school board has not allowed it even though it's paid for by his private insurance.

At Tuesday night's school board meeting, Board Member Misty Belford went over state statutes, rules and regulations, showing that RBTs are not listed on the state-approved list outlining who is allowed in schools to help children.

"I am hopeful," Pogar said. "I would like to think the best of the school board. I truly believe in the public school system."

Belford got teary eyed during Tuesday's meeting when she revealed she knew Andrew before he became ill.

She said she currently works with him in survival swimming and she realizes the importance of his RBT.

"Not only from the perspective of a school board member do I see the value in an RBT being appropriately included in the classroom environment to provide student support, but his RBT even comes to lessons with him," she said.

Belford recommended Brevard Public Schools adopt a policy similar to Broward County Public Schools, which recently tackled the same issue over RBTs and approved their use.

Other board members agreed, and they hoped the new policy might be in place in two-to-four weeks.

"We will see how this gets executed, and what this looks like once it's implemented," Pogar said.

Board members said Rep. Rene Palencia was planning to introduce a new bill in Tallahassee that would add RBTs to the approved list of providers. 

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013. He is one of the station’s lead reporters. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

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