SD 15 News
This week's 5TJT ran an article by School Board President Asher Mansdorf which related a very interesting development that took place at last week's school board meeting:
On Tuesday evening, the Board of Education ratified an agreement with the parents of several children who attend Kulanu Torah Academy [a special education Yeshiva] at a total cost of $135,000. To preserve the dignity of the families involved, and to protect the identity of the children, the agreements are negotiated out of the public eye. In an attempt to reach an agreement on student services and placement without the need for litigation, the school attorney and the director of special education met with the students’ advocates in a resolution session. The BOE directed the administration to do their very best to resolve the issue, and they did so successfully. The benefit is self-evident. The children are receiving an appropriate education in an environment that both their parents and educational mentors feel will result is a positive academic experience.So in an account that comes directly from President Asher Mansdorf, we hear that Stanley Kopilow and Pamela Greenbaum are making a stink over the district agreeing to provide for special needs private school students. We also find out that on the same agenda, a settlement was reached to provide similar services for a public school student - and Kopilow and Greenbaum chose not to mention that. Can someone explain to me how it's possible for these two board members to come out against a settlement when it concerns private school students, and not mention a similar arrangement that benefits a public school student? Mr. Mansdorf seems to have a suggestion for the conundrum:
This settlement is in contrast to last year when the BOE authorized expenditures exceeding $350,000 to litigate against children who contested their special education placements. That expenditure was in addition to over $200,000 in settlements. When the BOE decides to contest a unilateral placement, the toll on the family, the school, and the child is not purely financial. However, the process for each impartial hearing can exceed $18,000 per student.
This year, instead of proceeding to full-blown court battles, the BOE decided to attempt an alternative procedure that was within their purview. Parents of special needs children filed a form requesting “due process” and our special education coordinator entered into a resolution phase. This process is practiced by many school districts in order to avoid litigation and to alleviate the stress on the families of special needs children.
The BOE, in an executive session, discussed the process at length. Mr. Kopilow revealed at the open session Tuesday that in a 5-2 vote the BOE agreed to allow the district to attempt to settle the cases out of court. He wanted to go on record publicly stating that he disagreed with the settlement. Stan Kopilow and Pamela Greenbaum voiced concern over setting a precedent in settling with a non-state approved institution. What they both neglected to say was that on the same agenda the BOE settled a similar claim for a special education public school student to attend a non-state approved institution. They leave the impression that monies are simply being siphoned from the public sector to the private one. Members of the audience echoed that false impression during public comment.
These facts have no religion, no level of observance, and no racial identity. They are clear and irrefutable. They point to a situation wherein otherwise intelligent individuals who are absolutely blinded by hatred have allowed their emotions to cloud their judgment.Is the motivation for this uneven treatment toward fulfilling special education requests actually, as Dr. Mandorf suggests, pure "hatred"? Or does someone have another suggestion as to how two so similar situations can be treated so differently at the hands of certain board members? Anyone?