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Move of Some Special Needs Students Causes Controversy

Board President Sharon Cantillo said that there were numerous factors that went into the move, and apologized for lack of notification to parents.

A number of parents came to the Brick Board of Education Meeting this evening to raise concerns about a proposed move of about 60 special needs students out of their current district elementary schools to the Osbornville Elementary School.

Keith Rayner, who has an 8-year-old son in the district, said he is concerned that his son could now see the same teacher for three years under the proposal, which would combine classes for second and third graders and fourth and fifth graders.

"My son is high anxiety and he is a special needs child," Rayner said. "I understand that the teachers are moving with them, but it's not just the teachers. They are used to the cafeteria workers, and the other people in the building. It's not just about the building, it's about everybody in the building. He's so upset that those students that are in regular classes with him, they are not going to be with him now."

Maintaining a stable environment was a common theme among many of the parents in attendance.

Board President Sharon Cantillo said that there were numerous factors that went into the proposed move, and she noted that Superintendent Walter Uszenski planned to meet with "smaller groups"  of parents within the next two weeks of parents to explain in detail all of the factors that went into the decision.

Parents will receive letters and phone calls, as well as a note that will be posted on the website, so they are aware of the meeting dates and times.

Uszenski told Patch during a break in the meeting that the special needs program, as it is currently structured, "is headed in the wrong direction." Stronger inclusion emphasis from state education officials has necessitated some of the moves, he said.

Asked why the move had to be done so quickly, Uszenski said that will be the topic of discussion with the parents.

Cantillo called the move "educationally sound." She also apologized to the parents and admitted that an administrative directive for all of the parents to be notified for the change "was not carried out."

Uszenski said "this should have taken place back in April," when discussions about the changes first surfaced, but that a directive he sent to inform the parents was not executed. He declined to elaborate at the meeting last night.

This is a developing story. Patch will update as more information becomes available.

Chief Wahoo August 02, 2013 at 10:02 AM
It's a basement people ...... not a torture chamber !!!!
Favorite Teacher August 02, 2013 at 10:05 AM
links for parents: http://www.nj.gov/education/specialed/info/ http://www.state.nj.us/education/specialed/data/ an the law: http://www.nj.gov/education/code/current/title6a/chap14.pdf
Favorite Teacher August 02, 2013 at 10:55 AM
@CW, It's a local government's systemic segregation of disabled children. They are not taking about moving the fourth or fifth grade classes to a basement for 6+ hours a day. They are not asking typically developing kids to be shipped away from their home schools, away from their brothers and sisters and neighborhood friends! Learning disabled kids benefit from stability, and from being around typically developing kids, and tdk benefit from being around sp. ed kids. It's called inclusion, mainstreaming and educating kids in the least restrictive environment. Federal laws such as IDEA apply. I have seen no educational studies showing that grouping all the disabled kids together leads to better educational outcomes. Parents legal rights are being trampled under the guise of a clerical error? Oh yeah, right, a secretary made a mistake! Disgraceful. And btw, having been through the process from both sides of the educational fence, I can tell you as a parent, special ed is "torture". It is torture worrying about the kid's future. It is torture dealing with school lawyers and administrators who will call dyfus and threaten you will that nightmare. It is torture having other kids tease your child because they are "retards". Unless you have walked a mile in our shoes you do not what you are talking about. @Ed, we've already emailed your comments to your superintendent. You should have stopped running your mouth after I pointed out your own district's policy. As a district employee you directly represent them, go make a pseudonym to post under like others do. Good day sir.
Ed LeFurge August 02, 2013 at 11:14 AM
That's fine that you have emailed my comments to Dr. U. I have said nothing wrong.
Favorite Teacher August 02, 2013 at 11:20 AM
Really? Advising special ed parents not to pursue due process? Then why did you delete your comments!! You're learning.
proud August 02, 2013 at 11:32 AM
@Favorite Teacher, if you can state specific instances where Board attorneys or administrators have threatened to strong arm parents using DYFS as a lever, I think I can help you out.
Ed LeFurge August 02, 2013 at 11:36 AM
I didn't delete anything. I'm not advising anyone to do anything. I respect the passion that these parents have for their children, it truly is amazing.
Chief Wahoo August 02, 2013 at 11:45 AM
That passion is costing too much money and causing people to not afford their property taxes. These kids are not special. Make them learn to swim like all the other kids. If they need extra special help..home school or tutor them and pay for it yourselves
Favorite Teacher August 02, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Captain Yahoo, be careful - your karma is on the line here. G*d forbid it happens to your family!! We live in a democracy and we educate ALL children. The taxes here are out of control due to 600+ local districts duplicating services, corruption, overbloated administration, nepotism, as well as contracts given to connected friends and family. Special ed is not the problem with taxes, corruption is. But you don't pay taxes do you?? @ proud, yes indeed, I have seen it happen, schools have impunity if they report you to DYFUS, even if charges are completely unfounded! How can you help?
Chief Wahoo August 02, 2013 at 12:48 PM
Yes it's for the children. Otherwise Karma will get you. BOO Well I say Karma will get you when these children graduate their indoctrination and can not afford to live here. Yeah that is money well spent. And go back to school teacher. We live in a constitutional Republic , NOT A DEMOCRACY !!!!!
Favorite Teacher August 02, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Chief Dishwasher: The United States is a constitutional republic and representative democracy, in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law. You are not giving any useful information to parents who are looking for answers from the local school board, the people in charge of the majority of taxes. Instead you spew your ridiculous rhetoric "Sounds like a lack of parenting skills to me... ANARCHO-CAPITALISM" and that they should home school the kids? Go make a sign and stand by the road telling everyone how smart you are. I am trying to help others. PS ALL CAPS IS RUDE!! Good day sir. And I use the term "sir" loosely...
proud August 02, 2013 at 01:59 PM
@Favorite Teacher, I really doubt that schools have impunity when the circumstances that you have described rise to a the level of coercion. You may want to contact the Rutgers Law Clinic on this. As to an attorney acting is this manner, I would suggest that he or she would be swimming in ethical soup. I would half to tink that the Bar Association would not look favorably at such allegations. Bear in mind, that in either instance, you would have to be prepared to endure a huge time commitment and the disadvantage that these folks are insured to the hill for just these type of situations. Good Luck!
Favorite Teacher August 02, 2013 at 02:13 PM
Thanks Proud! I know better than to fight losing battles, proud, i just wanted to want the other parents what to expect if they dare make waves about segregating their kids to 6+ hours in a basement.. NJ Law "prohibits reprisal or retaliation against any person who, in good faith, reports or causes a report to be made of a potential missing, abused or neglected child situation pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.13. http://www.state.nj.us/education/code/current/title6a/chap16.pdf "Good Faith" are the key words here. This reminds me of "Dr" Brower...
Windward3 August 02, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Parents need to mobilize. If 60+ children are impacted by this.. where are these parents? A brave handful got up at the BOE meeting and are mobilizing but there is power in numbers. Look what the Drum Point parents did last year.
proud August 02, 2013 at 03:06 PM
That may be true and doesn't surprise me a@favorite teacher, but I was talking about the threat, not the act, which of course, should be punishable as well. That's the nanny state of NJ for you.
marjory towey August 04, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Jennifer if you child was supposed to be going in to first grade at the PLC and they now have told you it was a "clerical" error I suggest you look at the teacher transfer from the BOE meeting in June. I assume them transferring the 1st grade teachers to the PLC was also a "clerical" error? They think we are fools!!
joseph August 04, 2013 at 01:37 PM
Marjory Towey: I visited the June meeting on transfers as follows http://mms.brickschools.org/Portals/1/MEETINGS/2013-06-27/HR/2013-2014%20Staff%20transfers%206-27-13%20(3).pdf I counted 8 teachers being transferred from the PLC to other schools in district. I counted 2 teachers being transferred to the PLC. It doesn't appear to be a "clerical error" as you stated. I think it is the reality of moving Kindergarten teachers from the PLC to other schools for Kindergarten classes in their (students) home school.
marjory towey August 04, 2013 at 01:44 PM
Joseph the teaches who have been transferred to the PLC are the special education first grade teachers.
Favorite Teacher August 04, 2013 at 03:08 PM
wow! BOE notes are from 6/27/2013! "clerical"...
Jennifer Hanley August 05, 2013 at 09:19 AM
@Favorite teacher, Would you be interested in meeting with some of us.
Favorite Teacher August 05, 2013 at 02:53 PM
of course! see how the "parent meeting" goes~
Special Parent August 06, 2013 at 12:40 PM
i've seen no reports of the outcome of yesterday's meeting. wondering if anything was resolved....
proud August 06, 2013 at 12:49 PM
I have a question. Does anyone know the total enrollment in this district, and how many of that total are "special needs" students?
Special Parent August 06, 2013 at 01:04 PM
fall 2012 doe report has total enrollment at 4005.5 http://www.state.nj.us/cgi-bin/education/data/enr11plus.pl special ed enrollment data: (ages 6-21 by district) http://www.state.nj.us/education/specialed/data/2012.htm
proud August 06, 2013 at 01:43 PM
Thanks for the link. Am interested in how total enrollment of 4005 and a half was arrived at.
Favorite Teacher August 06, 2013 at 04:15 PM
BRICK TOWNSHIP The district narrative reports 10,000 students. Special Ed = 967 Please feel free to contact Dr Walter Uszenski (732) 785-3000 ext. 1019 wuszenski@brickschools.org http://www.state.nj.us/cgi-bin/education/data/enr11plus.pl http://www.state.nj.us/education/specialed/data/2012.htm
proud August 06, 2013 at 04:27 PM
I am a bit confused by the terminology used. As far as I can tell there are approximately 9700 students anticipated to be enrolled in October with about ten and one half percent being "special needs".
Favorite Teacher August 06, 2013 at 05:13 PM
10% - 15% is typical
joseph August 06, 2013 at 05:44 PM
Has anyone actually heard how the meeting went last night ? My understanding is that Brick schools have about 9700 students who actually occupy a seat. It is also my understanding that our Special Education population of all types of special education are around 22 % or around 2100 students. I believe this is one reason the state audited our district. The other was the number of Aids in these classes? It is my understanding the state is not happy with the Special Education program and how it has been handled for many years in the past!
WMS826 August 08, 2013 at 05:10 PM
Congress has exepted itself from Obama care...Federal employees will have better health coverage than all of us.

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