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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.

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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