States Must Ensure Espinoza Does Not Further Marginalize Students with Disabilities.

Via the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools: In its June 30, 2020 decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the United States Supreme Court allowed the use of public funds for private religious schools—a move that raises concerns about new legitimacy given to publicly funded voucher programs that do not support the rights of students with disabilities.  The facts in Espinoza, at first glance, are not directly related to students with disabilities. The …

Why Are Medically-Compromised Students Going Back to School in a Week? They’re Following State Guidelines.

We are not a hospital. We are not a summer camp. We are not a test for the thousands of students hoping to return to public school in September. I am extremely concerned that our governor does not seem to understand that ESY programs cannot be viewed as day camps and that they are a continuation of the school year for our students with special needs. If I accidentally infected a student and something were …

Murphy’s School Reopening Plan Will Open Pandora’s Box, Say New Jersey Superintendents

Last week Governor Murphy and Education Commissioner Repollet gave New Jersey school districts permission to open schools on July 6th for summer programming for students with disabilities as long as they follow the guidance given for opening summer day camps. (See here for detail.) Most NJ superintendents rejected the state guidance and will keep schools closed, relying on remote instruction for Extended School Year (ESY). After all, these school leaders said, traditional school — indoors …

New Jersey Superintendents Blast State Guidance For Reopening Schools to Serve Students with Disabilities

Ten days ago the New Jersey Department of Education issued “guidance” allowing districts to reopen July 6th for in-person summer programming for students with disabilities and claiming that the rules were issued after consulting with all stakeholders. Apparently they didn’t talk to parents.  Or superintendents.  Or teachers.  To wit: Two days after the “guidance” was issued (actually, the DOE just took the rules for summer camp and slapped a new title on top), a coalition …

A Conversation With Lakewood Attorney Michael Inzelbuch

On June 12th Governor Phil Murphy announced that school districts could start providing in-person summer programming for students with disabilities — called Extended School Year, or ESY — on July 6th. But two days earlier Lakewood Public Schools (LPS) announced that it will begin ESY on July 1st. What’s up with that? I decided to ask Michael Inzelbuch (who serves as board attorney as well as de facto superintendent and school board president so maybe his …

Leaked Email from Lakewood: School’s Open!

Governor Phil Murphy has yet to announce plans for school reopenings. Regarding summer services for students with disabilities, known as “Extended School Year” or ESY, Murphy’s Office said on May 4th, “[t]he Administration will create a steering committee consisting of a diverse group of stakeholders in the education community to explore summer learning opportunities for all students, including school-sponsored summer programming and Extended School Year for students with disabilities.” This steering committee has yet to …

With Repetition and Consistency, This Special Education Teacher Is Keeping Her Students on Track

As New Jersey enters its fourth month of school closures due to COVID-19, students on the margins are predictably suffering the most, especially those with disabilities.  The learning loss is often exacerbated if a special needs student’s family is poor. “Special education looks so different for a privileged family than it does in other places,” said Jessica Bacon, a professor of teaching and learning at Montclair State University. “I think this is going to reveal …

NJ Education Committee Chairs Ruiz and Lampitt Say State DOE Needs to Step it Up Now

Wednesday I wrote about the webinar “Learning from NJ’s Public Charter Schools during COVID-19” but I left out the opening discussion with Senator Teresa Ruiz and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Education Committees, who both provided thoughtful comments about New Jersey’s educational crisis. First let’s focus on Ruiz’s concerns about the role of the NJ Department of Education. After moderator Harry Lee, head of the NJ Public Charter School Association, asked …

Michael Inzelbuch Responds to NJEA’s Charges That Lakewood Is Violating Social-Distancing Orders.

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  …

Breaking News: NJEA Lawyers Demand Lakewood Schools Stop Violating State Social Distancing Orders

Last week the law firm Selikoff & Cohen sent a seven-page letter on behalf of NJEA and the union’s local Lakewood arm to Superintendent Laura Winters demanding that the district “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.” The letter is cc’d to the president of the local union, the president …