New Mission

New Mission

My idea is to explore how other countries around the world are dealing with education and special education issues. I’d like to see different successful schools, wherever they may be, up close. I’d like to sit down with directors and administrators. I’d like to speak with government officials who keep a pulse on the education affairs of their communities. I want to learn more about education around the globe through speaking with locals, seeing the schools, and shaking hands with the people responsible for implementing the systems. If you know of any outstanding (public or private) special needs schools in other parts of the world, I’d love to hear about them. If you know any education experts from around the world, I’d love to be introduced to them. Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts or ideas. Read more about my mission.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

State Review Officer Paul Kelly Resigns

The New York State Review Office, which reviews decisions of impartial hearing officers concerning students with disabilities, has been a source of controversy for years.  The man who hears these appeals, State Review Officer Paul Kelly, has been the center of this controversy.  Allegations of Mr. Kelly's bias abound and some reports have suggested that Mr. Kelly ignored the recommendations of his attorney staff in order to rule in favor of school districts and against parents.  An interesting tidbit is that Mr. Kelly was rumored to be carrying on an intimate relationship and living with Kate Surgalia, a high-level lawyer at the State Education Department.    

It appears that Mr. Kelly has finally resigned.  Whether this was forced upon him or done voluntarily is unclear right now but, no doubt, had to do with the extreme scrutiny he has been under and the harsh criticism he has received.  The issue of who will replace Mr. Kelly is still being worked out.    

Monday, September 20, 2010

Early Intervention

New York State law clearly defines who is eligible for early intervention services.  According to the regulations of the New York State Department of Health, a child is generally entitled to EI services from birth until the age of three.  But, if the child turns three on or after September 1, the child is eligible to continue receiving EI services until January 2 of the next calendar year.

So then why does the Department of Education tell parents different?  In a recent case, the mother of a child with autism exercised her right to continue EI services until January 2 following the child's third birthday.  The mother told the Department that she would be needing a preschool placement for her child once the EI services expired.  The Department responded that no programs were available and blamed the mother for extending the EI services.  They were basically saying, "You should have come to us in September."

When the Department failed to recommend a program, the mother placed her child in a private school capable of meeting his needs and we filed a claim for tuition reimbursement.  The Department ultimately decided not to fight the case because its position was not supported by the law.  The claim was settled and the parent received 100% of the funding she was seeking.