Education Law Center Nails Problems with the DOE’s Emergency Changes For Special Education Students.

Tomorrow morning the New Jersey State Board of Education will hold its first-ever Skype public meeting due to COVID-19. The first item on the Board’s agenda will be a proposal by Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet that allows schools, during this State of Emergency, to provide services to students with disabilities on virtual platforms. Education Law Center will be there to quibble. And everyone’s right. Quick backstory: When districts abruptly closed, some shut down all remote …

NJ’s Head of Special Education on Home Instruction for Students with Disabilities: “I’m Not Trying To Sugarcoat This in Any Way.”

If you’re a parent of a child with disabilities, you might have panicked when you read this yesterday: As part of [U.S.] Congress’ response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has proposed to include a provision in the pending stimulus bill that would give the Secretary of Education authority to approve state waiver requests for any statutory and/or regulatory requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for 1 year and extensions …

Schools Must Stop Using Students With Disabilities as An Excuse to Do Nothing

My husband and I have four children. Our three oldest are what we in the special needs community call “neuro-typical” and our youngest has multiple disabilities. Let’s pretend that they are all school-age—our whole family thrust into COVID-19 school-closure chaos—and we are informed that because our district can’t comply fully with our disabled child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), our three other kids will have no support or instruction from their teachers for weeks or months. …

All the Things Max Eden Gets Wrong About Students With Disabilities and IDEA.

We barely survived my son Jonah’s adolescence. One evening in Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station he pushed me so hard I fell to the ground and a woman leaned over and whispered in my ear, “that child has the devil in him.” When my husband took our four kids to a minor league baseball game, Jonah started stomping and yelling so angrily that park officials called security. One day in upstate New York where we rent …

We Need a New Way of Talking About Students Who Face Barriers Erected by Adults and Sustained by Broken Systems

This is a guest post by Cami Anderson, a lifelong educator and advocate for the nation’s most vulnerable students. After 20 years as a chief executive in government and nonprofits focused on equity for the most underserved populations in our country (including Superintendent of Newark Public Schools from 2011-2015), Cami now leads ThirdWay Solutions, an organization dedicated to finding innovative, 21st century solutions to the most intractable challenges leaders face in pursuit of ambitious goals. …

Special Education Parents, Know Your Rights! (Part 2)

Last week I published a post called “Ten Lies That Parents Of Special Needs Kids Often Hear: Know Your Rights!” and suggested that we in the special needs community share information to better advocate for our children. During the past week I’ve received many questions and comments from parents who are doing their best to navigate what can be an overwhelming thicket of regulations and red tape as they struggle to secure necessary services for …

Ten Lies That Parents Of Special Needs Kids Often Hear: Know Your Rights!

When I speak to parents of children with disabilities, I often hear reports of Child Study Teams (those responsible, along with parents, for creating Individualized Education Plans or IEP’s) who pass along false information or undermine the critical role parents have in deciding on necessary services and appropriate placements.  I hear these reports from Latinx parents — some not completely comfortable with the English language and/or concerned about their immigration status — in low-income districts …

Meet Jamir, A Seven-Year-Old Asbury Park District Student Who’s Been Home for Six Months.

Jamir is seven years old, bright and smart and handsome.  He is enrolled in the Asbury Park District and is classified as eligible for special education services because of a diagnosis of ADHD but hasn’t attended school for six months. That’s because the district, according to Jamir’s grandmother, has “kicked him out” and failed to provide an appropriate alternative program for him. This is wrong in so many ways yet sadly unsurprising for a district …

Here’s A Leaked Memo From the NJ DOE’s Assistant Commissioner When She Directed Special Education in Asbury Park.

The memo below is from the New Jersey Department of Education’s Assistant Commissioner of Student Services, Carolyn Marano. It was written while she was Director of Special Education at Asbury Park Public Schools. In both positions she was hired by Lamont Repollet, first in his position as Superintendent of Asbury Park and then as NJ’s Education Commissioner. It all points to a disturbing pattern of leadership that undermines the academic trajectory of children with disabilities. This …

People Show You Who They Are, Including The Head of Student Services At The New Jersey Department of Education. New Info From Asbury Park.

“When someone shows you who they are,” said Maya Angelou, “believe them the first time.” This would have been good advice for  Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet before he hired Carolyn Marano as Assistant Commissioner of Student Services at the Department of Education. We can’t absolve him on the basis of ignorance; after all, she was his Supervisor of Special Services when he was Superintendent at Asbury Park Public Schools. But I guess he likes what …