|We are well aware that some of the real heroes
of the special services education process are those teachers and staff who work
with students having pronounced special needs. We have seen the vans
bringing students in wheelchairs to our schools, and can begin to
appreciate the extra patience the teachers will need as they labor to
bring those children along in basic skills. We've seen students with
severe emotional swings being counseled by the Guidance staff so that
they're able to complete their education. We truly and sincerely honor their work.
At the same time, we are becoming aware
that among some families with students who have only very mild learning
disabilities, and who have Individualized
Education Plan (IEP's) to address that, there is a strong feeling that the
program tradition in the Roxbury School District is to just pass kids
through. There does not seem to be great expectations for their
academic progress, and so all too often a minimalist approach is in
Here's an example of how
incompetence by Special Education Administrators hurts
Suppose a child enters 3rd grade and the teacher notices that while the
child's work is mostly satisfactory, with exemplary behavior, the child
has difficulty holding in memory a sequence of more than 3 verbal
commands. Testing is done, and a determination made that a mild learning
disability exists, and the child is classified and grouped into special
ed classes. A dozen other kids are in that same group, some with a very
mild condition, like your child, and others with more severe conditions.
As the years go on you learn that some in this group are from families
that are well known to the police, or who are being monitored by the
State Child Protective Service, and evidence a knowledge of sex and
profanity far beyond most 6th graders. All the while your shy child is
being traumatized by the taunts and harassment of the troubled students
in their SpEd grouping, and your pleas to the staff fall on deaf ears.
BUT WAIT !! Every three years the staff is
supposed to re-test, so your child would be re-assigned to a more
appropriate grouping. But in your school district the Special Services
Leadership is in turmoil, and so they want to avoid doing that which by Law
they are required to do. So that 6th grade time for re-testing goes by
with the staff downplaying the need for the re-test, so it isn't done. Seventh grade is horrendous,
the future criminals take delight in tormenting your child, some
teachers make an effort, others don't, and still others literally seem to be off
their meds. Eighth grade is worse, with the kids regaling each other
with tales of sexual deviancy, mocking your child who doesn't join in.
Your now desperate pleas to the staff cause the Vice-Principal of the
Middle School to hide
in her office when she looks through the office window and sees
you coming up the walkway, and
causes some older teachers to roll
their eyes and tacitly acknowledge your complaint, while saying they are
powerless to change things.
By Ninth grade your child is begging you to
pull them out of school and home-school, so you make that familiar trip
to the Guidance office to complain again, and suddenly you hear yourself
say to the staff member: "Maybe you should retest". WAIT !! By law they
are supposed to retest every three years, but they neglected to do that.
So in mid-ninth grade, at your insistence, they retest and
GUESS WHAT, your child tests normal, no more learning
disability !! Your child is put into a more mainstream class and
does fine. Suddenly, in a growing tsunami of righteous anger, you realize that the
staff, in their laziness and incompetence, has just partnered in
needless harassment, bullying and hurt to your child in an inappropriate,
dysfunctional class for the last 3 years. You are justifiably outraged
at how your child has been wounded, directly due to the incompetence of
the staff. Those staff members know that they will suffer no
real consequences for their blunders, since the NJEA Teachers Union protects
it's members from accountability, while your child & family continues to deeply
suffer the consequences. You consider a Lawsuit, you've got the paperwork to
back you up, but wanting to protect your child you withdraw your
the Public School District over the summer.
Next year in a Parochial High School
your teen does great academically in regular classes, has many
friends, is involved in extra-curricular activities and is a delight to the teachers, all in a positive
atmosphere of support and traditional respect in a well
Just a, ahem, "hypothetical tale", but one that
mirrors what happens in reality.
Here is a fact: Behavioral issues within
Education classes greatly impede learning and traumatize children. School administrators
often show a lax
attitude toward the toxic climate that prevails in
some class groupings. That menacing atmosphere causes some kids to
withdraw and link school to painful experiences.
So, these questions almost
Is retesting being offered on the state mandated
Is there a minimalist
attitude toward academics for anyone with an IEP??
Are students with IEP's being sufficiently taught, tested, stretched and
Are students with severe and dangerous bullying behavior allowed to
continue to harass??
To be honest, while we have our opinions on these issues, we can only base
them on the experience of the four Roxbury families we've spoken with. So, perhaps
this page will stir some discussion, or serve as a catalyst to get other
families thinking about their situation. These families need to insist
that all that can be done is done.
??? Did you know that in the last 7 years,
Roxbury has had 3 different Directors of Special Ed ???
Special Education Rights Code, hosted on our site