Readers’ Scoop: 80 Special Needs Children Still Out of School

linden school boeDear TLS.
The whirlwind that we as Tiny Tots parents are in is one that is difficult for parents of normal functioning kids to understand. Just as the dust begins to settle and we begin to see where the pieces fell, I would like to reiterate for the public the outcome of the events of the last few weeks.

Right now, as people are settling into schools for the coming year and as the community heads through the final hours of preparation before the Yomim Tovim, there are still about 80 families with special needs kids without a proper school environment for their child. This would be a catastrophe for any regular ed kid, all the more so when we are talking about Lakewood’s neediest.

The Tiny Tots inclusion program which helped over 50 English speaking kids from the frum community received no enrollments at the ‘New Kosher Program.’ It’s completely disbanded because none of the English speaking parents were ready to sign up. What we do have instead is four inclusion classes that are entirely composed of Spanish speaking students.

The self contained program which deals with the more seriously challenged children, while not entirely dead, has a mere eight English speaking students scattered through four classes. There are a total of two, (that’s right 2!) English speaking, special needs kids in each of these four classes. The other two special kids are Spanish speaking.

I ask, does this make any sense for kids who have severe communicative issues? If you were to put two regular ed. pre-school kids in a class with all Spanish speaking children…. which language do you think they would come home speaking? I don’t think it’s hard to see that this program is not a fair public option. I’d like to know if any district in the country would put such a linguistically disproportionate class together. I don’t believe any would.

With all due respect to the Board members who put in countless unpaid hours to juggle the myriad needs of the entire Lakewood community, (with all its diverse components) the numbers prove for themselves that we need an English speaking public option in Lakewood. I feel as a parent I was betrayed by the people who asked for my trust, especially in light of the fact that while this thriving program was being destroyed they opened up an additional fifteen regular ed pre-school classes for the general public.

Apart from this, the class rooms and facilities in the trailers are nowhere near what we had prior to being ‘promised’ an identical program on different grounds. What some regular ed parents may not realize is that this is not just a matter of aesthetics for special needs kids. These children simply can not grow the same way in a logistically inferior environment. Their service has been severely compromised.

Another troubling outcome is that fact that many of the former parent body members are banging down the doors to get into SCHI or STARS. Guess what… any savings realized through this switch could be seriously offset if that happens. I don’t have the exact figures but SCHI tuition is astronomically more than what Tiny Tots used to cost.

In the final analysis, approximately ten percent of the parent body found the ‘identical program’ we were offered acceptable (or at least better than the alternative of having no place). Given this reality, the unsuitable location, and the grossly disproportionate language distribution of the classes there is a strong case to be made for an entirely separate English speaking program.

I hope and pray as we approach the Yom Hadin that the BOE members, who I believe are sincere and devoted individuals, will consider the needs of ALL of Lakewood’s children and that we can put together a reasonable alternative for the coming year.

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  1. It is not my intention to be angry with you erev R”H but how do you expect me to react as 1 of 80 parents that don’t know where to turn now.

  2. There is no program that I can imagine will parallel the incredible program Tiny Tots offered, but at least the district should use the facilities and hire their teachers in an attempt to try and meet some of the needs of the special needs kids. If the children are in the same facility at least there is some familiarity to them.

  3. great letter. we were betrayed. this cannot continue. i hope theat the klal davens for my soon and all the children that have no where to go.

  4. How did you BOE members even think this would save tax dollars if now my taxes will be raised to cover the cost of some kids that were in TT self-contained classes and are now going to stars and SCHI at close to 10 times the cost??

  5. Thanks to the parent for sharing what we’re feeling with everyone else so that they have a clearer picture of what we’re all going through right now. I feel betrayed by the members we voted in and am waiting to hear what magical solution they will come up with next.

  6. thank you for putting out the facts in a letter. wonder if we can get figures on exactly how much more it costs us to give kosher food to kids that don’t have those dietary restrictions and how much our tax rate will go up when sending kids to other more costly special needds schools.

  7. I’m not a parent but just read this letter and can’t imagine the heartache and trouble all those 80 parents are having now in trying to find a place for their kids when there really is no option. BOE Members – we voted you in and counted on you – prove to us you can make this work!

  8. i will not shy away from the blame of the tiny tots fiasco and i do regret what we did, but some of the blame belongs to the (moderated) who led us down the wrong path and put up roadblocks where ever we turned

  9. This is a great letter and i share the same problems as the parent that wrote this. This is the last opportunity that the board has to still run a decent program. Hope they take the lifesaver this time around and run the program as close to tt as possible.

  10. After all the trouble, confusion and last minute scrambling we parents did the board of ed should at least work as hard to get an english speaking program running.

  11. It eats me up knowing that kids that don’t need to eat kosher food which is much more expensive will be eating my tax dollars every day – at least don’t provide kosher food for the spanish program.

  12. there are only 4 kids per class with three teachers? my hard earned tax dollars at work. I think Tiny Tots was a way cheaper option. if this was a public company many heads would fly for this screw up. who is resigning from the boe for this mess up?

  13. We all have to daven for these children on rosh hashonah. we have to feel the tzar that these parents are feeling and hopefully hashem will take this gzerah away from lakewood eir hakodesh.

  14. My neighbor has one of these children that used to go to Tiny Tots. You cannot imagine what this parent is going thru, She told me that its been the hardest few weeks of her life and she is going into yom tov not knowing what will be with her deaf child. May hashem have rachmones this rosh hashonah on all the children of klal Yisroel.

  15. In the spirit of erev rosh hashona I feel there are a couple of things that have to be said in defense of our tireless oskim betzorchei tzibur. It is not their fault that therewas a concerted effort to convince former tt parents not to enroll in the boe pubblic option. It is also not their fault that all the regular ed parents who said that only tt teachers can be. Suitable were suddenly unwilling to send when they would lose their free bussing and have to pay $150.

  16. You do have an option. Stop being so stubborn and self righteous.enroll your child in the program being offered. If the ‘hold-out’ parents enrolled their children, wouldn’t the ratio of ‘frum’ children to spanish speaking children even out? All you do is about all the Catapult teachers that were laid off for no other reason than TT wanting every program in Lakewood. Look where it got you. 🙂

  17. As a former special teacher I feel that all the parents should register the children in the public school and demand English programs. If Lakewood balks go the the county and state as the funding for these classes comes as a form of state aid. If you register and follow up on your child’s program it will improve.

  18. My son (who was doing phenominally in TT) is now home without a school. He came so far this past year in Tiny Tots and now I see him starting to regress…Please do whatever you can to help!

  19. to #13

    How dare you insinuate that someone convinced me how to educate my child? I know what my child needs and to think that I will dump my child into a trailer full of non English speaking children and call it a special needs program is insulting. What’s evident is that the boe members have no clue about how to educate a special needs child and all they are interested is cutting taxes. Their first priority has to be education and then cutting taxes.

  20. Catapult teachers were not laid off due to tt wanting any program and what progrma exactly do you refer to that tt has now? catapult teachers were laid off because catapult cut expenses

  21. I agree with anonymous. You got what you asked for and now you don’t like it. Lakewood is a multicultural community with multicultural students all of whose needs should be met. Pre-K at Catapult was an exceptional program before all these problems with exceptional teachers who were familiar with all people in the community.

  22. Catapult teachers were not laid off to cut expenses! Catapult had the low bid and the best qualified teachers. You figure out why Catapult did not continue in the district.

  23. Much to be said but not for Erev Rosh Hashanna… I will only say Chasima V’chsima Tova all children should get the help that they need within a reasonable budgtet and everyone’s Tefillos should be accepted L’Tova!

  24. There are still many regular education students out of school due to private school closures. How much more traumatic is it for a 6th grader to be home feeling rejected and unwanted when all his neighbors are going to school?!! This is not something we can blame the BOE for a change. Maybe as a community we should take responsibility for ALL our children before we blame the public spector for their lack of responsibility.

  25. You say “some of the blame belongs to the (moderated) who led us down the wrong path and put up roadblocks where ever we turned”.

    Not true. All the blame belongs to the BOE members. FIRE THE PEOPLE WHO DUPED YOU. Until then the blame lies squarely on you shoulders. Don’t insult our intelligence. Don’t add insult to injury.

  26. Now due my daughter remains at home all day. My wife cannot cope with her, she is regressing, and to top it all off, my wife has just lost her job due to her continued absence. A loss of a childs education, shalom bayis, and many thousands of dollars. Why?

  27. Perhaps the kids could go to an English speaking class if there weren’t so many “non-English” speaking kids in the town. And maybe there wouldn’t be so many “non-English” speaking kids if their parents weren’t hired by the town residents to work for them.

  28. Does anyone believe that there will be a real viable solution, or will we be forced to simply keep our kids home, and have them turn out for the worse. Remember, tonight is Rosh Hashana, time to daven for everything.

  29. Not to slight the reader’s position, but while it’s probably true that the majority of the “spanish speaking” children come from homes with a primary language of spanish, the fact is, if they are eligible for special education, then they probably have severe communication deficits of their own. It’s not as if all the children in the class are fluently speaking spanish. The instruction is in both languages.

    This is really no different than a child with communication impairments who is spoken to in English at school, but exposed to Yiddish in the home.

    If the teachers are high quality educators, and a program is available, why would you choose to keep your child home rather than send them while you work toward a better solution?

  30. this is obviously what ha hem wants so how can u be so upset with the curent circumstances. if you trust hashem in good times then you must trust him in time
    where he does not favor you.

  31. #35 I worked with a special ed child a few years ago. although his mother spoke hebrew to all he other children in the family, she spoke english to him, since it is much harder for a child like that to learn 2 languages. he ends up getting farther behind in both.

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