Education

Complaint Filed Against West Orange School District Determined to Be Without Merit by NJ Office of Special Education Programs

cb16960da5dc3f86bcc3_woboe.jpg
cb16960da5dc3f86bcc3_woboe.jpg

WEST ORANGE, NJ - On November 1,  the New Jersey Office of Special Education Programs rendered their decision on the complaint filed on August 23 against the West Orange School district by Susan Freivald and Alexandra DeRonde, who are also co-presidents of PASSE (Parents Advocating for Special Services in Education) along with Renay Zamloot, a Non-Attorney Education Advocate. The decision determined that  the district was "accordingly determined to have been generally compliant with the special education regulations" as they pertained to the complaint, which revolved around the implementation of block scheduling and curriculum changes at  Liberty and Roosevelt Middle Schools. Freivald/DeRonde argued that the schedule changes and integration of Special Needs students into World Languages courses had not been properly addressed to parents and caregivers of special needs students. The Board of Education approved the LMS and RMS Schedules on June 26, 2013.

The West Orange Department of Special Services spent the summer meeting compliance requirements for special needs students (students with IEPs, or Individualized Education Programs) as they pertained to the schedule changes at LMS and RMS.  In the opening remarks in the decision received by the West Orange School district by the NJ Office of Special Education Programs, the requirements were laid out:

Students' special education programs and placements may be changed only with a formal change to their lEPs pursuant to N.JAC6A:14-3J. Changes to the IEP without a meeting may be made with written parental consent pursuant to NJA.C.6A:14-3.7(d); otherwise, an IEP meeting must be convened. Written notice of the proposed changes to students' IEPs must be provided to parents in accordance with the requirements of NJ.AC. 6A:14-23. In developing students' lEPs, districts must take into account the academic, developmental and functional needs of students, and develop a program, including appropriate modifications, supports and accommodations, for the student to progress in the general curriculum, N.JA.C. 6A:14-3J.
 
 
Interim Superintendent James O'Neill, in a statement to the Alternative Press, noted:
 
On Friday November 1, 2013 the district received the official report from the state Office of Special Education Programs.  The investigation was the result of a complaint filed by two West Orange residents who purport to have expertise about special education issues and who profess to be knowledgeable advocates for parents of classified students.  I indicated to the Board and the public at the time that I felt the charges were without merit.   I am delighted to report the state has confirmed the West Orange School district not only appropriately exercised our right to modify the program but because it was within the “districts authority to organize it delivery of curriculum and instruction , it was not necessary to amend the student’s IEP’s to implement the district-wide change…. The district followed the required procedural steps to amend and implement student IEP’s.”
 

The official report from the state Office of Special Education Programs went on to say that:
 
In this matter, the West Orange Board of Education exercised its authority to modify the program of study delivered to all students at the middle school level and to ensure equal access to the curriculum, including world languages, for students with disabilities. Because it was within the district's authority to organize its delivery of curriculum and instruction, it was not necessary to amend students' IEPs to implement the district-wide change; however, in order to address the master schedule change, the district acted expeditiously to amend students' IEPs to reflect the changed curriculum. Amendments were made without meetings with written parental consent as permitted by N.J.A.C. 6A:14-3.7(d); otherwise JEP meetings were scheduled to make the changes as required by N.J.A.C. 6A:14-3.7 and 2.3. Written notice that met the requirements of
N.J.A.C. 6A:14-2.3 was provided to the parents in the course of making the IEP changes. In those instances where lEPs have not been amended, IEP meetings have been scheduled, and the students' IEPs have been implemented in the context of the new schedule. The district followed the required procedural steps
to amend and implement students' IEPs, and is accordingly determined to have been generally compliant with the special education regulations.1 However, for those two students whose lEPs have not been amended to date, the district is directed to convene JEP meetings and consider the special education services to be delivered to them. Copies of those students' revised IEP should be provided
to OSEP within 30 days of the date of this report.
 
Sue Freivald and Alexandra DeRonde were contacted by the West Orange Alternative Press for their comments regarding the New Jersey Office of Special Education Programs' determination regarding their complaint:
 
"We appreciate the investigator's time and efforts. We filed the complaint on behalf of parents who had approached us with concerns about negative effects on their children, and because of our own concerns about compliance with the law. 
 
While we respect the state's decision, we regret the judgment that the district-wide changes were acceptable, since this seems to ignore the foundational premise of individualized education plans (IEPs): that the individual needs of each special education student must be considered whenever the district takes action.

Also, the state's ruling does not mean that all the changes made were appropriate for all students affected by them. For instance, we appreciate that fact that Sandra Mordecai has asked the superintendent to look into whether severely impaired 8th grade students from self-contained classes have been placed in freshman-level general ed World Language without consideration of their needs and level of functioning. Instead of taking them out of World Language or providing other instruction they need, such as reading, district staff are simply making the World Language classes pass/fail, even telling parents that as long as the child attends class, they will pass. This is not appropriate for either the struggling students with special needs, whose time is being wasted, nor all the other students in the class who must work hard to get good grades in World Language. We look forward to working with the district on solving these remaining problems."

Interim Superintendent O'Neill, however, was pleased with the decision of the State Office of Special Education Programs determination regarding the complaint, and went on to say:

"The district spent an excessive amount of time, money and manpower to prove what we were doing was correct all along.  The individuals who filed this complaint have professed to discover district wrong doing in other areas of our operation.   They not only owe an apology to the district but to the taxpayers who have underwritten the cost of the investigation. 
 
Some local publications found filing of the complaint to be front page news.   Perhaps this news will get the same attention."
 
 
 

 

 

 
 

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Orange

Evolve Cycle And Fitness Presale Happening Now!

May 18, 2018

CALDWELL, NJ - Evolve Cycle and Fitness is now offering 10 classes for only $90. That’s only $9 a class when you purchase before its official Grand Opening on Friday, June 1, 2018. 

Only two weeks left to take advantage of this limited time offer! Call Martha at 973-979-5919 or click here to sign up.

Evolve Cycle and Fitness is a Premier Fitness Boutique ...

Save Up To 20% at CNP Treasures

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Are you still looking for the perfect gift for your mom or that special someone in your life for Mother's Day? Then CNP Treasures has you covered! Save up to 20% at CNP Treasures located at 14 Northfield Ave in West Orange.

Come by this weekend so we can help you find the perfect gift! Offer expires Sunday, May ...

Montclair HS Student Reported Sexual Assault in All-Gender Bathroom, Officials Say

May 17, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ - According to published reports on Wednesday, Montclair Police officials are investigating allegations of sexual assault reported to have occurred in a bathroom at Montclair High School.

Montclair police officials state that officers received a report about an incident at the high school of a sexual nature that occurred around 3:18 p.m. on Monday. The ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_3dd755d9dc476b5f4dc3_unnamed__4_

Mon, May 28, 8:00 PM

West Orange High School, West Orange

Board of Education Meeting

Community Calendar Education

Carousel_image_28c899d8572458eda4f7_mini_magick20180422-110109-8dtxfl

Tue, May 29

Essex County

Primary – Vote by Mail deadline

Carousel_image_a6317549d4614cf34367_unnamed__5_

Tue, May 29, 6:30 PM

Council Chambers, West Orange

Township Council Meeting

Clarifying Points Made in Article About WOHS Air Quality Issues

May 14, 2018

Dear Editor, 

I am the advisor to West Orange High School's student newspaper, The Pioneer. My Editor-in-Chief, Anna Favetta, is the student who researched the topic and wrote the article bringing this issue to light. She worked on the article for 4 months before she had adequate and proper information for it to go to print. 

An article on the BOE presentation of the ...

What It Means to Me - A Baseball Story

We are all in amazement of the dedication and talent of our young West Orange athletes. One of the goals of our youth sports programs is to develop our players so they are ready for high school and are prepared for success at that next level of play. Throughout the course of the year we will be featuring some of our talented young athletes and coaches. This week we have the perspective of ...

West Orange On Three!

The spring season is in full swing, and we are excited to debut this new column focusing on all things youth sports!  We thought we would kick things off with an overview of the programs West Orange has to offer, and then go behind the scenes to see what makes youth sports tick.

West Orange Police Athletic League (PAL) and Mountain Top League (MTL), together with the West Orange ...

Summer 2018 Events at the West Orange Public Library

May 15, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Beginning in June, the West Orange Public Library will offer the following events for area residents of all ages:

Dinosaurs’ Rock!                                             

Monday, June 11, 4:00 p.m.

Field Station Dinosaur visits with the ...

10-Year-Old Cancer Patient Receives Donation from Randolph Hockey Family

May 21, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ — While the inter-town hockey battles on the ice between Randolph and Roxbury are fierce at every age level, when it comes to real-life battles off the ice, there is no hesitation to offer help to their neighbor.

Such is the case with a recent gesture of unity and support from the members of the Randolph varsity hockey team, when they came together to ...

A Royal Pain

I went to a big wedding over the weekend.  It was in England.

I like to think I was invited, but according to the Royal Guards and the Thames Valley Police I was not.  But more about that later.

You see, not too long ago I received an evite addressed to me from H&M@royalwedbot.co.uk.  Curiously, it was in my spam folder with a warning message. For an evite it was pretty ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...

'The Sting' with Harry Connick Jr. Slithers and Shakes at Paper Mill

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and Chicago.  Scott Joplin’s music is intertwined with the show, especially “The ...