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Sch’dy may be rushing kids back too quickly from special education

Wednesday, November 27, 2013
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Sch’dy may be rushing kids back too quickly from special education

Reading the “Special education changes in motion in Schenectady,”was both a good and bad experience.

Good because the district is finally taking seriously the fact that many students in special education should never have been placed there. Bad because I am fearful that the laws and regulations put in place by the federal and state governments are being arbitrarily ignored.

Parents are too often in the dark as to the requirements placed on the school districts by these laws, and it is to the delight of districts to take advantage of this ignorance and do whatever they wish with children.

Rita Levay, who has been hired by the Schenectady district and described as an expert in the field, was formerly an assistant commissioner for special education with the state Education Department. In that regard, she is an expert — an expert who knows the requirements like the back of her hand. However, in her current position I am afraid that she is the one dictating which students will stay and which will return.

There is an in-depth process to placing students into special education and removing them from same. That process is so intricate that, when doing it right, it should take many weeks to appropriately review 2,000 students, not a period of days or even a few weeks. Meetings involve reviewing the current status of each child, updated evaluations in order to reach those conclusions and providing parents an opportunity to challenge the district through a hearing if they disagree. That opportunity includes giving parents written notice about their rights.

It is a fact that Schenectady has significantly reduced the number of paraprofessionals. This staff was often assigned to a student in order to provide one-to-one assistance to the student, for part or all of the school day. Doing so helped maintain many of the students in regular classrooms.

Is Schenectady going to hire enough of them needed to provide the support required by the students’ Individualized Education Plans (IEP)? If so, I would sure love to hear about that good news.

Parents, beware of your rights and the fact they might be being violated. Contact the Gazette and let them know what is going on.

Marilyn R. Wessels

Schenectady

Democracy takes another hit in Malta

The election for town supervisor here in Malta has shown not only how important it is to vote, but also to what lengths Republicans will go to disenfranchise votes who were clearly against their candidate and his vision [Nov. 22 Gazette].

In the interest of fairness, I am a supporter of and involved with the Democratic Party here in Malta, albeit in a small role and function. I must also say that I’ve had the pleasure of working with Republicans in various capacities here, and am sad and perplexed to see the national rancor between the Republicans and Democrats leaching its way into small-town politics.

As I see it, this judge went way too far in his application of adherence to absentee ballot restrictions when, as The Daily Gazette pointed out [Nov. ??? editorial], the voter’s intent to vote for his/her candidates was clearly indicated. The issue stems from marks made on the opposite side of the ballot regarding propositions.

In my business, people are very often making marks and signatures in areas and spaces other than where indicated on contracts to perform various forms of remodeling projects while I’m sitting there next to them, showing them where to make their marks and signatures. These are instances where they are spending thousands of their hard-earned dollars. I think those votes for the Democratic candidate should’ve been allowed to stand, absent any indication of fraud, of course.

But wait, the judge was a Republican. So in my eyes, there’s no real surprise those contested ballots — clearly indicating their vote for Democrat Cynthia Young to be our next town supervisor — would be thrown out.

Democracy? I think not!

Michael McGraw

Malta

Simplification the only thing to save Obamacare

I read with amusement articles like Barbara Shelly’s Nov. 24 Opinion piece, where she makes it sound so easy to fix this “national” health plan. If enough money and time are thrown at it, perhaps it can be saved.

The major problem is that everything and the kitchen sink were thrown into this 3,000-page law that no one read in its entirety. There were suggestions from the opposing view that were disregarded that may have simplified it, but surely would have given the law some bipartisan support.

I’m not an expert in the health care field and don’t know what the answers are, but our Congress should get back to the “KISS” principle — “Keep it simple, stupid.”

I believe the quest for power got the better of common sense. There will be lots more unraveling and course corrections on this unwieldy law and we will continue to use money we don’t have.

Gerard F. Havasy

Clifton Park

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comments

November 27, 2013
8:54 a.m.
JIMOCONNOR says...

In this case, Ms. Wessels has hit the nail on the head on all counts. She is especially point on about former SED administrators being qualified to make, or, oversee, correct clinical judgements. Superficial PROCESS is by no means PROGRESS. Parents and STAFF beware.

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