Earlier this week I published a letter from a law firm representing NJEA, sent to Lakewood Public Schools Superintendent Laura Winters and cc’d to the president of the local union, the president of the Lakewood School Board (Moshe Bender), and Michael Inzelbuch, attorney for Lakewood Public Schools district. The letter demands, in reference to the one-on-one evaluations currently underway in the district for students with disabilities, that Lakewood “cease and desist its blatant violation of violation of Executive Orders 104 and 107 and the guidance issued by the New Jersey Department of Education on school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Today I received via email a response to the charges listed in the letter, written by James Trischitta, the district’s Director of Technology, sent to Inzelbuch and Winters. Here is the full letter, plus a video at the end.
The Lakewood school district has commenced the process to complete Evaluations in person that are essential in the provision of special education services . Consideration is being given to expand the Evaluations to our large student population that require testing to qualify for remedial instruction and/ or assistance as they are ELL ( English Language Learners ) when required .
The process utilized is fully compliant with Governor Murphy’s ORDERs and was fully vetted in advance with the Lakewood Police Department, the Ocean County Board of Health, and the County office of the Department of Education-County Office as the correspondences attached above, in part, demonstrates .
As Federal Secretary of Education DeVos made it clear on April 27,2020 learning must continue for all students and declined to seek Congressional Waivers to the provision of providing a FAPE ( Free an Appropriate Education to all students. To provide a FAPE , the first part of the process , is current and valid Evaluations. The Federal law entitled the IDEA ( Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) governs the are of special education . This Federal law requires Evaluations to be completed in a timely manner . The timelines , typically 60 or 90 days , have not been relaxed by the US Department of Education .
To the maximum extent appropriate the District is utilizing other modes of evaluation with families and students to complete Evaluations. For example, Social Evaluations, that are often utilized to gather background information as to a child ,are being completed telephonically or via zoom .
However, Evaluations that require standardized normed- referenced results ,such as required Psychological and Educational Evaluations , as well as Related Service Evaluations such as Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy are being completed in person by employees and/or consultant who regularly service the District’s children on voluntary basis . No employee or consultant is compelled to complete any Evaluations if he/ she does not desire to do so . No student or family is required to participate. However, the District must offer .
No evaluation will be completed unless and until a full health screening occurs as described above , with the screening ,in part, commencing even prior to the student arriving at the Evaluation site as described above . Upon arrival at the Evaluation site, nurses , in accord with the Governor’s ORDERS and protocol discussed with the Ocean County Health Department take the child’s temperature and complete extensive precautionary review of the child’s medical status .
All staff and parents and students are required to wear mask and gloves .
Additional information is being emailed .
Additional information if required can be obtained by contacting Board Attorney Michael Inzelbuch at 732-966-0998 or via email at [email protected] .
COVID 19 EDUCATION EVALUATIONS VIDEO