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Apr 032013

In February this year, Norwalk’s  Board of Education listened to a read out from CREC  on how it could improve its Special Ed practices in the area of consistency and transparency.  It would seem that Norwalk is not alone.  Last month, members of the group SPEDucated Parents of Darien and other parents of children in SPED (about 24 parents) have filed an unprecedented group complaint with the Connecticut State Dept of Education against their Special Ed Administration.  The complaint stems from not  including parents in their children’s Individual Education Plans (IEP.)  Under federal law and the Individual with Disabilities Education Act, Special Education students and parents are entitled to due process.  Part of the Darien parent’s complaint to the State Department of Education states:

We are parents of children with disabilities in the Darien Public Schools.  We write to request that you convene a hearing, pursuant to 20 U.S.C. §1413(d)(1) to withdraw funds from the Darien Board of Education for its systematic violations of parental rights under the IDEA [the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act].  We recognize that this is a drastic remedy and one that has never been invoked in Connecticut.  Nevertheless, the extent of wrongdoing and violation of the rights of students with disabilities by the Darien Public Schools warrants serious consideration by the State Department of Education, pursuant to its supervisory responsibility over local education authorities pursuant to the IDEA.

Below are links to the developing story.








Feb 242013

The Norwalk BOE heard a status readout by CREC (Capital Region Education Council) on progress made by Norwalk’s Special Education Department  in terms of staffing, operations and expenditures.  It also examined actions taken by NPS since its 2008 evaluation.  The presentation is below:



Click below to listen to an audio of the BOE Meeting that night.





For more information on CREC, click below:





Jun 302012

With all of the controversy surrounding the budget talks and the $4M shortfall (which has now been partially attributed to overrun costs in the special education budget as well as insurance and benefits) we thought it beneficial to publish a review that was performed by the CREC on Norwalk’s Special Education Department in November, 2008.

The report examines and makes commendations and recommendations in the following areas:

  • Organizational Structure
  • Special Education Process
  • Communication
  • Compliance
  • Impact on Student Learning
  • Resource Allocation

Below is the report:


Feb 092012

The  statement below was read at a BOE meeting the other night and not the Norwalk BOE.  This is not from a Norwalk parent but this letter could just as easily be applied here.  Read the letter and try to figure out what town you think this parent is from.  Parents get angry because the system is so ridiculously broken–nationwide.  (The name of the town is at the bottom–don’t look, read the  letter first, see if you can guess).  A presentation and  information on what SRBI is  and how it is supposed to be working in our public schools  is attached at the bottom of this post.


My comments are intended to provide a balanced perspective – what many parents experiences feel is a spiral –  cause and effect the general ed reading curriculum for K – 3, SRBI and the resulting increase in our special education budget.

We are told that SRBI is a tiered intervention to identify struggling readers – to get our children help and reduce the need to have intensive services in special education.

I was told that Tier I of SRBI – my children’s general ed classroom has adequate instruction in teach all children to read.

I disagreed.

So I met with our Administration to find out more, to find out why SRBI failed for my children:

I was informed by the Asst. Superintendent the district does not require explicit, systematic phonics instruction in general ed.  I asked why – when phonics is the basic foundation of reading?

The Administration informed me that kids in _______ enter Kindergarten not needing phonics.  This is quite simply a frightening assumption and untrue.

The Administration told me that silent reading is valuable more valuable than teaching reading explicitly.  Research shows – that until children are fluent readers – this is waste of precious time.

There is no way to monitor all students silent reading.  My child learned to memorize the words instead of decoding for two years.  There is abundant research that shows reading aloud to an adult does improve phonics and fluency.

Struggling Readers are referred Tier II for more help. Surely the instruction methods are scientific and phonics is instructed there.  No — actually they get more of the same instruction… only more often in pull out.  Teachers have the title of instructional reading specialists in SRBI but do not have reading Masters degrees or a standard of performance to meet.

I assumed that of our District was accountable to showing the data that SRBI was effective for my children and that they were making progress.

It is of course called “SCIENTIFIC RESPONSE BASED INTERVENTION”.  I requested evidence of my son’s progress.  After two months, I found out it doesn’t exist.

I have been told my family is an unexplained anomaly. I talked to other parents and this appears to be routinely unavailable.

I asked to see samples of what progress monitoring is supposed to look like — tracking that somehow was not done for my kids.   How long are children in Tier II?

I am still waiting and either this information does not exist or is not provided to the public –  I sent my letter to all of you and received no response – I request a response again tonight.

Parents have a right to respectful, civilized treatment, that our Administration does not attack us for expecting an appropriate education.  Your press releases are an offensive, inaccurate and inflammatory profile of parents that file for due process – explain how these “marginal” and “frivolous” complaints?  What parent would spend tens of thousands in due process if there wasn’t clear evidence that our school district had failed our children?

I ask the BOE to show us a review of why families win an outplacement by mediation to remedial reading LD schools that cost the District up to $50K a year?

To get into an LD school, a child has to be at minimum two years behind and of average or above average intelligence.  So it’s not the parents or the kids who are at fault here.

If the District was accountable, parents and the district wouldn’t be engaged in monetary settlements.

It’s an easy target to throw your hands up and say that the costs of special ed and lack of state and federal funds make it inevitable that we go over budget.  And it’s true that Special Ed is a complex and confidential business.  If residents don’t know the system, they are unaware and it seems reasonable to think these costs are out of control.

This board and administration must stop blaming and look inside to the inefficient management of your general ed curriculum.

If we had systematic, explicit curriculum in the early years to teach kids to learn to read, all our kids would be reading to learn after third grade.

The result of my SRBI – my child entered second grade reading at a PreK level.  He has to work for 11 months of the year every day to have any hope of catching up.

Thank you for listening and I look forward to the seeing improvements in the curriculum in general ed, the system does not add up and our budget reflects this.

(The town is Darien)


SRBI srbi_basic_training_introduction_srbi