Thursday, June 26, 2008

Continued More Families May Be Eligible For WIC/Maximum Income Levels Announced

WIC provides supplemental foods that supply significant amounts of protein, iron, vitamins and other nutrients that are needed in increased amounts during periods of growth, such as pregnancy and early childhood, said Meg McCarthy-Klein, project director for the Ocean County WIC program. The Ocean County Health Department staffs and operates 12 WIC clinics around the county, benefiting infants, children under age 5 and pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women. For more information about WIC, or to schedule an appointment for eligibility application, call 800-342-9738, ext. 7520, for the Toms River area, or 800-342-9738, ext. 7108, for the Lakewood office. The Ocean County Health Department released the new maximum allowed weekly gross income amounts, effective July 1: Family size income 2 $519, 3 $652, 4 $785, 5 $918, 6 $1,051, 7 $1,184, Each additional family member, add $134. (Click here to return to home page article).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Continued TLS Exclusive: Supreme Court Decision Favoring Private School Reimbursement: The Lakewood Reality.

The Supreme Court decision comes in the case of Forest Grove School District v. T.A. The case centers on an Oregon teen who attended public school for years, but was not diagnosed with a disability until his parents enrolled him in a private placement. The teen’s parents later sought reimbursement from the school district even though the boy had never been enrolled in special education within the school district.Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate education (FAPE) until age 22. It has long been held that parents could seek reimbursement for private placements if a child’s needs could not be met by the school district. But schools have argued that parents must first give public education a try.The court’s 6-3 ruling Monday in favor of the teen and his family found that not to be the case.“We conclude that IDEA authorizes reimbursement for the cost of private special education services when a school district fails to provide a FAPE and the private school placement is appropriate, regardless of whether the child previously received special education or related services through the public school,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in the majority opinion.Two years ago the Supreme Court heard a similar case, but failed to render a decision when Justice Anthony M. Kennedy recused himself and the other justices were evenly divided, 4-4. (click here to comment on home page article).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Continued: Can't Fight City Hall? Says Who?

Success Story: How I Won a Private Placement Using Documentation & Telling my Story to the School Board, by Kim Riley. Last year, I attended the Wrightslaw conference in Jefferson City, Missouri. Thank goodness I attended that program. I didn't anticipate having to use what I learned so soon. You gave me the tools to endure a very stressful battle with the Kansas City School District. This story is a summary of that battle. Two weeks after I made this presentation to the school board, the district entered into a settlement agreement with me. My son is allowed to attend a great private school where he is making tremendous progress. Keep up the good work and fighting the good fightTestimony by Kim Riley before the Kansas City School District School Board Good evening. My name is Kim Riley and I’m an alumnus of the Kansas City, Missouri School District (KCMSD). I attended Sanford B. Ladd Elementary from 1975-82, from kindergarten to 6th grade. And I attended Lincoln Academy from 1982-88, 7th to 12th grade. I was always an honor roll student – National Honor Society, Who’s Who, Student Council, etc.Now I’m on the other side of the fence. I’m the parent of a child in the district. My son is 6 years old, has autism, and is in kindergarten. Instead of the achievement-driven educational system that I'm accustomed to, we’re in the special education arena. And we desperately need your help.Documented Events On May 25th, I contacted my son’s teacher to schedule a meeting with the Exceptional Education officials to revise Kendall's Individualized Education Plan and placement for the fall. Kendall had been evaluated by staff at Children’s Mercy Hospital. The staff made some specific recommendations. A week later (the day before the last day of school), the teacher called me. She said she left messages for Gayla Wampler, Diane Odegard, Cheryl Stefanella and Jennifer Cramer. No one returned her calls. I called Jennifer Cramer on June 3rd and left a message asking that she call. She didn’t return my call. On June 16, I faxed a letter to her and requested a meeting.Meeting #1 was held on June 25th, 30 days after my first request for a meeting. I provided copies of the evaluation from Children’s Mercy. The KCMSD officials said they needed time to review the evaluation. They asked to reschedule the IEP meeting to the following month. They suggested that I invite the therapists who work with my son to the meeting so we can get complete information about Kendall and his needs.Meeting #2 was held on July 26th. I provided copies of the Children’s Mercy evaluation to those individuals who did not attend the June meeting. I invited a therapist who works with Kendall at home, his case manager from the Kansas City Regional Center, several family advocates, and a representative from Milestones Academy. At the June meeting, I asked the team to consider Milestones Academy as a placement option for Kendall. This school uses a behaviorally-based therapy approach that has proven to be effective with helping people with autism overcome their symptoms and live productive lives. A third meeting was scheduled for August 26 to allow Gayla Wampler, District placement coordinator, to review the Children’s Mercy evaluation.Meeting #3 was held on August 26th. We reviewed Kendall’s Individualized Education Plan. I submitted new Present Levels of Performance and goals and objectives for the coming school year. KCMSD officials agreed that the District couldn’t educate Kendall. This decision was based on the Children’s Mercy evaluation and the revised IEP goals and objectives. The team decided that to place Kendall at Paige Elementary School for 30 days, until we could agree on an appropriate placement. The district asked me to visit four schools and observe the programs. For the third time, I asked the district to visit one school – Milestones Academy.Documented Missteps Along the Way There have been missteps along the way. On the first day of school, I contacted the superintendent about the Exceptional Education department’s failure to keep their promise to enroll Kendall in Paige, and my concern that I would have to take off work again to do so. A more serious offense occurred during the second week of school. The wrong bus was sent to my home to pick up and drop-off my non-verbal child at the wrong school. I sent a letter to the superintendent and spoke with Gayla Wampler about this incident. Months have passed. I have not received an apology or any evidence that an investigation was conducted into this child endangerment matter.What happened during six months of meetings and conversations with the placement coordinator, the interim director of Exceptional Education, the superintendent -- and anyone who would listen to me?Documented Inaction 1. The KCMSD ignored the Children’s Mercy Hospital recommendations. They continued to use the same speech goals and program that have been unsuccessful in teaching my child to speak for three years. 2. After nearly four months, my son continues to be placed in the interim 30-day placement at Paige Elementary, despite the District’s admission that this school is not appropriate for him. 3. In October, I realized that I could no longer jeopardize my son’s life by negotiating in good faith with the KCMSD. I filed child complaint charges with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Special Education. The district hired an attorney to fight me. The district has continued its pattern of stalling by having this attorney file for an extension to answer the charges. A decision was due this month. Because of these legal tactics, the decision will be delayed for at least another month.Negotiating in Good Faith As a product of the KCMSD, I am deeply saddened that the District treats children with disabilities in this neglectful manner. While these children have limitations, they can learn and live productive lives.As a parent and consumer, I am shocked at the non-existent customer service the District extends to parents.As a taxpayer, I am outraged the District spends our tax dollars to hire attorneys to fight against the interests of children, instead of investing these dollars into their education. I thought educating children was the mission of KCMSD.I ask the board to conduct a thorough internal investigation of the Exceptional Education Department and to take action by holding your employees accountable for their actions and/or inactions. In this District, there is a pervasive attitude that kids with disabilities are uneducable. The opposite is true. Countless interventions are successful at teaching kids with disabilities. There are people with autism who have completed college, have jobs and families. But kids with disabilities in this District will never learn, and will never live up to their potential as long as the District continues to put up road blocks, uses stall tactics, turns a blind eye to the truth, and abandons children who desperately need their help. I beg of you to review the attached timeline so you can see how parents are treated when they attempt to be proactive and negotiate in good faith for their children. For six months, I’ve tried to get the District to follow the doctor's orders and implement an intensive program to address my son's delays. I beg you to act. DO SOMETHING and DO IT QUICKLY. Kendall Riley and other kids with disabilities in this District cannot speak or fight for themselves. Their lives and futures are in your hands.Kim & Kendall RileyKansas City, MO. (Click here to comment on home page).
The following is the link to the souce of the article.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Letter From LAC Continued

However there was some comforting news too. The askanim in town together with the taxpayer's staunch supporters on the Committee, worked tirelessly until the very last minute to cut the proposed raise in half. They worked solely L'shem Shomayim, but were blocked by the Republican Administration, and our taxes were raised astronomically. We will now have a net tax raise of 13% over last year!!! At least we are able to discern who are our real advocates on the Committee. THANK YOU TO MEIR LICHTENSTIEN AND MENASHE MILLER!While we have lost the battle we will win the war. In the coming months we will highlight some of the free spending ways of the Lakewood Township departments, and the Board of Education, which have come to light after the Advisory committee presented their findings. We will let the Public know exactly what our Mayor and Deputy supported. Hopefully this will prevent us from repeating the same mistake next year, and we will bring back MAYOR RAY COLES!!! We would like to inform the readers that while the public hearing on the budget has been closed, the actual vote will take place at the June 18th Township Committee meeting. We would suggest that any citizen who feels that this budget should be voted down, even if it means shutting down Town Hall until a better one is introduced, should please come to the June 18th meeting in the Municipal Building at 7:30 p.m. While we cannot say that it will change anything, at least it will show the politicians that we are watching and will hold the Mayor and Deputy responsible for this travesty! (Click here to post comments on home page). (For a full report including an interview with Deputy Mayor Steve Langert, see this weeks issue of the Voice.)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Readers' Scoop Continued

(Continued from home page). And just hold-on, this is not about Orchos Chaim, certainly a fine mosad, nor its principal, for that matter. We say this item struck us as ‘odd’, because, if you have a neighbor, friend or relative who is parent of a child with special needs, you know a little about the anguish parents routinely experience trying to get special ed help from the District. Bashing your head against a brick wall, doesn’t even begin to capture it. But if you yourself have a child with special needs in Lakewood, as we do, you know—up, close and personal—the excruciating pain, heartache, as well as the intimidation, abuse, and outright blackmail you must endure in trying to obtain special education services. Be it a reliable evaluation, an accurate, comprehensive IEP, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Counselling, or any other special education service essential for your child’s growth and development. So this hollow “newsletter” testimonial struck us so bizarre that we decided to take a closer look. Guess what we found? BOE records show that Orchos Chaim, whose principal “volunteered” this apparently “unsolicited” testimonial, was paid $112,275 in 2008 in special services from local taxpayer District funds—for just one student. The highest award made by the Lakewood District, nearly four (4) times the District’s average per-child award, (see Chart). But let’s not jump to conclusions. Despite all appearances, this is, after all, not solid proof of a handsomely-paid political ad. Perhaps it is purely a coincidence that, of Lakewood’s approximately 20,000 preschool and school-age children, the single most needy child just happens to be enrolled at Orchos Chaim. Orchos Chaim, is after all a fine mosad, and definitely deserves credit for enrolling and caring for this child. Maybe the principal, just coinicidentally, got a little carried away by hakoras hatov for this one child, and ignored the District’s overall dismal performance record and sordid tactics. Maybe. But, again, though noteworthy, that’s not really the main point. And before anyone comment about this specific case, losing focus, please answer one simple question, which is our main point. Who, besides Michael Inzelbuch, decides how to distribute annually a Special Education and related services budget comprised of $20+ Million in local taxpayer funds, plus another $17+ Million in federal and State funds?? With a Special Education services budget for nonpublic schools (mosdos) totaling nearly $40 Million ANNUALLY, and rapidly growing, who decides that one child will get $112,275 per year, while hundreds of other, similarly-situated children in our mosdos, including our child, will get not a single penny? In short, how is Michael Inzelbuch qualified to pasken dinei nefashos on who gets into the lifeboat, and who is left behind to drown?? How is this decision reached? On what basis? When? Where? Let us save you many hours of research. No one. And NO ONE looks over his shoulder. Duped again and again, the members of the BOE have abdicated their responsibility, and have given Michael Inzelbuch a free hand to use and abuse his authority as he deems fit, and are paying him handsomely to do so. As taxpayers we would like to know how long this abuse will go on. But much more importantly, we, as well as hundreds of other parents like us, demand to know. As we said up-front, the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this letter really depends on who you ask—those who know what’s going on—or those who don’t. (click here to comment on home page).

NEXT: Stay tuned for Part II of the Parents Letter.