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District Hit with 14 Special Education Violations

Ten of the 14 violations have to do with paperwork and record keeping; officials using new software to ensure violations do not reoccur.

Officials are in the process of correcting several violations issued by the state Department of Education in regards to the district’s special education program.

The state’s Office of Special Education (OSE) found the district failed to comply with 14 of 46 state and federal special education requirements, 10 of which have to do with record keeping; federal requirements are mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The did not have a director of special services from December 2009 until current director in July 2010. Scalo said this contributed to some of the violations.

"I, and the entire department, are working to address these violations," Scalo said.

Scalo said the district has purchased new record keeping software to ensure that files and students’ Individualized Education Plans are current.

“Our move to this new database has allowed us to put in safeguards that will catch these compliance issues,” Scalo said.

The software informs personnel of exactly how much work has been done regarding a particular student and what needs to be done next.

The Office of Special Education conducted onsite-monitoring visits and audits of the district’s records in 2009 to ensure that the requirements were met, however the process was not complete until this year.

Richard Vespucci from the state Department of Education could not provide the specific number of violations by school districts in Passaic and Bergen Counties for the same time frame.

The district has approximately 1,700 special education students and approximately 250 employees. About 130 employees are paraprofessionals who work exclusively with one student.

Among the findings of noncompliance were the following violations:

  • Students were not invited to IEP to discuss transition services to adult life.
  • The district did not consistently provide students with written summaries of their academic achievement and functional performance prior to graduation.
  • A review of records and interviews with staff members indicated that IEP meetings for students eligible for speech language services were not consistently conducted, or more often, if necessary due to lack of implementation of district procedures.
  • Letters to students informing them of their progress or graduation status were supposed to be addressed and mailed to students separate from their parents or guardians. Scalo said letters were mailed out, but if one or two were not placed in a separate envelope, that could have trigged a violation.

Most of the violations are easily correctable, Scalo said. Scalo said that due to proper record keeping, all students with an IEP who are 14 or older are now asked if they want to attend an IEP meeting for such a purpose.

The district is taking steps to ensure the violations do not reoccur.

Scalo has scheduled a series of training sessions with district personnel to address the noncompliance issues. The sessions began in November and will end in March.

The state will return in May to ensure the district is compliant with the violations.

Empowerment and labeling

Providing students the opportunity to sit in on an IEP meeting or receive a letter addressed to them is about empowering the students to believe in themselves, Scalo said. 

“People, and particularly students, grow and mature when they believe in themselves,” Scalo said. “When you send a message that you’re different you’re creating a divide that wouldn’t necessarily be there.”

The fundamental problem with special education in general, Scalo said, is that it is based on labeling, and not empowering, students.

“Children in particular should not be labeled, but unfortunately, that’s the way we get our funding,” Scalo said. “The way the law is written actually encourages us to look at students from a deific model.”

Rather than focus on the things that a student does well or how a student learns well, special education teachers often focus on fixing a negative aspect of a student’s learning process.

“We’re looking at the problems rather than the successes,” Scalo said.

Gordon Rizzuto January 28, 2012 at 05:49 PM
THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE. Even with no Director of special services that shouldn't have happened. What kind if idiots are working in the school. I wonder how many kids suffered because they weren't aloud to voice there opinion. Maybe the Board of Education needs to spend less time dealing with football and fixing the real problems. They should get an explanation from every single CST (Child Study Team) member of every school and get an explanation for why these violations occured Not 1 or 2 I might add but 10.
Al Scala January 28, 2012 at 06:09 PM
I agree! Totally unacceptable at any level. Maybe if some of our Board members weren't so interested in furthering their political careers, like running for Freeholder or trying to get the next appointment to the town council, they would focus more on our children. Keep our children first, not your political ambition.Worry more about providing our children with the best programs, tools, technology and curriculum for learning.
fboy1932 January 28, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Each board member has their own agenda especially when they have children in the schools. Their agenda is to help out where there kids go, nothing else. Its been seen and proven, no matter who becomes a board member that's whats expected. We don't have a choice unless we get rid of the board and have the school monitored by the town like some other States do. There ain't no law that requires a school district to have a board. I think if the Town starts getting involved with decisions the district would move forward and run better. Also board members in this Town likes to have control over the superintendent, its always been that way. And when you have a superintendent that stands up and tries to do the right thing, hes voted out on his next contract.
FB63 January 29, 2012 at 04:49 AM
On another note....I would like to know why we are now paying for an Assistant Superintendent???? Can't he do his job on his own?? I am appalled at Wayne Township for this hiring!! So instead of 1 super with a salary of $850.00 a day we are now paying two salaries of 180.000. and 160,000. combined that is $340,000.00...ahhh cronieism at it's best!! Bring in your friend to Wayne...what a world we live in.....My taxes have more then doubled in 16yrs...it is outrageous...and my house is not worth much more now then when we bought it......Wayne ought to take a deep long look at it's inner working body...before they start losing people ...moving out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I am really getting sick and tired of giving our hard earned money to Government so they can make up jobs for their friends to come in live off us.....meanwhile our kids are getting the shit end of the stick with classes being cut, teachers etc. so we can pay for them hiring people in the upper management that we don't need...I cannot believe no one else is saying anything about this......Wayne residents have so much to say about everything else they don't like...why not this? Spending our money like it is so easy to come by these days....Mayor Vergano where are you?? Do you agree with this? Assistant Superintendent? I don';t who else??
fboy1932 January 29, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Another Sico in the making except hes a younger version.
Al Scala January 29, 2012 at 03:57 PM
It should be interesting how our illustrious Board deals with the 2% cap, mandated on the tax levy. Let's see how they spin this. They will have to get very creative. I am impressed with the new appointee who in my opinion has very good credentials.Hopefully Bob Ceberio won't polarize him like he's polarized the entire Board.
Pad January 29, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Yes, these two will leave Wayne in a short time with thier pockets full of our money. The taxpayers in this town don't have the B-LLS to stand up to a small group of political wannabe's at the BOE. Yes, the new Superintendant brought his friend from the losing school district of Paterson to Wayne. They didn't learn a thing from the last two Paterson rejects. Thier our over 350 foreclosures in Wayne. High taxes here being the number 1 reason. And the number 1 reason for high taxes is the Wayne BOE. Taxpayers in this town should boycott the BOE and get rid of them. We here all the BS that goes on there just imagine what we don't hear?
Nutridoll January 30, 2012 at 10:43 PM
There has been a 2% cap for at least the past 7 seven years.
Nutridoll January 30, 2012 at 10:46 PM
And you think the town council members and mayor don't have children in the schools? I'd like to hear one example of where there's been favoritism.
pamela rozinski January 31, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Interesting to learn that the Board has 14 violations with important issues. I'd like to know about the violations that are not record keeping related. Even the record keeping ones are inexcusable. I guess they are too busy embarrasing and making fools of themselves with issues with which they should not even be involved.

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