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Special Education Remains 109 Priority

District deals with government mandates as it strives to maintain high standards.

Special education has been front and center as an issue in the ongoing contract negotiations between and the teachers’ union. 

An overwhelming majority of the 20 parents who said they have children receiving special education services. They expressed concerns about a reduction of programs. 

Some of those parents said they moved to Deerfield specifically because of the reputation of the schools attentiveness to special education needs. 

“I have a daughter with autism and that is the reason we moved here,” Karen Rappaport said at that meeting. “My daughter is a true success story because of what the teachers do. My children can do things I never dreamed they could do.” 

explained at that meeting services were still being met though not in the same ways as before because of what she described as “over identification,” a process by which the federal government felt District 109 had too many children receiving services. 

“For a student in Illinois to receive services the student must be on an IEP (individual educational plan),” Goier said. “It was determined we had over identified who could be served. We had to go through a process to look at what we were doing.” 

The District then found ways to continue giving services to all students in need and overcome the over identification issue at the same time, according to Goier. “We are committed to giving support to all our students,” she said. 

Recognizing the ongoing need in this area, the School Board will hear a special presentation at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at its Committee of the Whole meeting on the ongoing efforts of special education in the district. 

“The presentation will include information about how District 109 has implemented Response to Intervention (RtI, the law in Illinois) and how the broad continuum of special education services fits into an overall educational environment,” District spokesperson Cathy Kedjidjian said. 

Three parent meetings are also being scheduled at different schools, according to Kedjidjian. 

Another concern of parents expressed at the last meeting was the elimination of the resource centers. “We will come to every meeting until you put the resource centers back,” parent Caroline Schwartz said at the time. 

Children with special needs spent part of their day in a resource center rather than a foreign language class to work on issues related to their IEP, according to teacher Kristie McCarthy. She felt they were a benefit to the students. 

“They (the students) work on their IEP goals to keep up with their courses,” McCarthy said. “Now we work with them in their regular classroom. Without it you can’t do your best (as a teacher).” 

Immediately after the meeting, Goier said the District reached out to the parents who expressed concerns. “We heard the parents and called each one of them so we can address it (their concerns),” she added referring to parents who had a concern about a specific child's situation.

Anne January 05, 2012 at 02:42 PM
It is clear that the agenda of the Board and District 109 is to undermine Special Education. As a community we will be at risk if the District wishes to intentionally discriminate against kids with special needs.
Harry Steindler January 05, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I am glad to hear that the district is taking some action - the action cannot only be to bring information to the community - it has to be information gathering as well - the board and administration absolutely need to listen to parents and just as importantly teachers and other special education service providers. Whatever the district is currently doing is not meeting the expectations of the above mentioned. The district needs to work with these constituencies to correct these issues - soon.
Bob Mavet January 05, 2012 at 06:44 PM
The District's position that the Federal Government has determined that too many students are receiving special services does not hold any weight. The Individual Education Plan is exactly that; the determination to provide these services is based upon need, not numbers and the district has an obligation to taxpayers to properly identify and address these needs. RTI is simply a technique to assist in addressing bringing students up to grade level. Yes, it would be ideal to "mainstream" all students and mitigate the need for special education but this is not the reality of the situation. People have strengths and weaknesses but not all qualify for special assistance. Let's insure that those in need are properly provided with services that are American rights, not privileges. Sometimes the aim to achieve excellence takes priority over financial costs. District 109 has no problem providing monetary resources for the gifted program. Special ed deserves equal prioritization and importance.
Harry Steindler January 05, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Thank you Bob
Naomi Chambers January 05, 2012 at 08:37 PM
thank you Bob, I hope the District takes note you are dead on!
Curious Resident January 05, 2012 at 11:08 PM
My understanding that a lot of the students that might have been over identified were speech and language students. However, I am not 100% on that. That the federal government identified that, leaves out the expectation that parents who have children with special needs moved to Deerfield because of the excellent services in which their children received. That still does not explain why resource programs were removed from the middle schools and why all the students need to take a foreign language. Remember in the December meeting Dr. Goier and President London stated it is complicated. Now they are saying it is because of over identification?????? Which is it....complicated or over identified???? Further more, are they going to allow those who have been identified to not receive appropriate services? I know as a consultant that parents who go through private testing and show that their child has a disability are even denied services. The statement usually is we don't see the impact in the educational setting. That's because the parents are working with their children or have tutors. Should I advise parents to take away the support so their children fail....now that just isn't logical.
Harry Steindler January 05, 2012 at 11:21 PM
"Educational setting" as discussed in the previous post - I hope the district looks at educational setting as something beyond a student's ability on standardized tests and extends the definition of educational setting to include communication skills, motor skills, ability to interact socially, etc. That seemed to be the norm when my children were in District 109 - We as a community should not allow that to change.
Amy Parker January 06, 2012 at 02:05 AM
I, too, am mystified by the contention that the federal government thinks District 109 has too many students identified as special needs. If I were still a parent in 109, I'd be concerned about the overload on classroom teachers as previous recipients of special ed. are returned to their classrooms. Many of these students are incapable of functioning in a general ed. classroom environment without extra assistance. The district has severely reduced the number of Teaching Assistants and in some cases, students who had one-on-one aides from the time they were in Kindergarten are now expected to function independently. What happens, in fact, is that the classroom teacher's time and attention are diverted from teaching OTHER STUDENTS in order to manage those with big learning or behavior deficits. Everyone loses. If the district is set on cutting down the number of children receiving special services, then it should provide for classroom aides who allow teachers to devote themselves to the majority of students instead of just those with high levels of need. Everyone wins.
Mara Meyer January 06, 2012 at 05:27 AM
Whether you use a discrepancy formula or just observational techniques, the fact remains that District #109 is not doing the job in the gen ed classrooms for the students. The spiralling curriculum is only an advantage to students who learn independently. The teaching to the top, with the hope the rest will follow must stop. RtI is not a response to delaying identification of those who are eligible for special education services. The Federal Government or the Law does not have a quota of how many students a district 'should' have. Let's really look at the thought process and dilution of policy that the District has implemented! How many of the students that leave 109, then have to be assessed only to subsequently be found eligible for special services. Better yet, let's get some numbers on how many families need to go outside of the District to receive services.
robyn whiteman January 06, 2012 at 03:20 PM
As quoted above, Dr. Goier said, “we heard the parents and called each one of them so we can address it (their concerns).” I am not sure who did the calling and which parents were reached out to but I can vouch for at least 5 of us who were at that meeting and not a one of us received a call. Dr. Goeir may I suggest that in the future you chose your wording more carefully so that what you say is truth. If all that is being said is used as a pat on the back to get people to calm down with no validity behind what is said it is best to say nothing at all. I do not like to be placated and I feel your statement is just that. Remember there are those of us who are reading this that were at that meeting and we were not called. What are the facts behind this statement? Was it just one person who was called, was it two people or none at all? I find it hard to take anything you or the Board says as honest and truthful since a matter such a small as this could not even be contended with in such a manner.
Lisa Polisner January 07, 2012 at 01:32 AM
I am one of the parents who spoke at that meeting. I have a child with an IEP so I would have expected to be contacted about the Jan 23 meeting. I've heard nothing. The next headline on the patch should read. " The search continues for those parents actually contacted by the School Board"
HB January 07, 2012 at 02:48 AM
LOL! My IEP child must be working on goals with Mr. Invisible. The only working on goals are done with a private tutor. As for contacting parents of students with IEP's...I won't hold my breath.
Anne January 07, 2012 at 04:54 AM
Seriously Dr. Groier, it is the Government's fault that you are failing to provide services to kids with Special Ed.... is the Administration and Board of Education taking PR lessons from the "clown car?"
Bob Mavet January 09, 2012 at 12:15 AM
The taxpayers/parents who comprise District 109 need to evaluate their collective power and make a determination as to the effectiveness of the currently elected officials. If you agree with their choice of administrators and the direction that the district maintains support these people at the polling booth. If you do not, use the power of your vote to make a change. These officials cannot be allowed to determine the fate of students in a vacuum. Not one of the currently elected officals actually has experience in education; this is not say that they are ill intentioned. It simply indicates that they accept the reports of the administration without truly grasping the long term effects of mismanagement and job protection. A district that has a director level job for gifted and a lower level administrator for special education makes a direct statement to the residents. Make a change; make your vote count. Place your fellow neighbors in positions of authority that can properly determine policy and employ the best qualified educators. Dr. Groier is not an advocate of special education. Nuff said!
Mara Meyer January 09, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Well said Bob! When Susan Baker retired and Dr. Groier replaced a knowledgable Special Educator with a unknowledgable person, the District's thought process and policy was blown out the window. Slowly and carefully, the Board and Administration have watered down the curriculum for all students, made teaching more challenging for the staff, and students learning unduly difficult. This District seems only interested in padding the Administration's pockets!
Harry Steindler January 10, 2012 at 05:30 AM
Any information or commentary on tonight's District 109 board meeting? I missed it to attend our DYBA board meeting.
robyn whiteman January 10, 2012 at 06:24 PM
There was a great turn out last night at the meeting. The Board finally opened up, to a degree, about their stance on the issues yet they left many questions unanswered. The support for the teachers was overwhelming. While some of the parents who spoke stated that they have special needs kids, they made it clear that all the kids are impacted by the negotiations. There will be an open forum for the community to meet with the DEA in the near future so that people can express their concerns and have questions answered. The information regarding this meeting will be posted on the teacher's union website. www.deerfield109teachers.wordpress.com
John Russillo January 10, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Many good speakers, but two outstanding ones, in my opinion. First, the above mentioned Lisa Polisner who called out both the superintendent and a middle school principal for promising action but delivering nothing. That was very powerful and spoke to the failing of the administration. We have all been focused on the Board, but Admin should not come away from this unscathed. Second, the former teachers' union head (I apologize for not knowing her name) ended the evening with a rousing speech calling on parents to keep fighting. It certainly inspired me to keep fighting, and that is what I will do until this thing is settled.
Katie Bittner January 18, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Most certainly that is their attempt! Inclusion/mainstreaming DOES NOT WORK FOR EVERY CHILD. When parents go into IEP meetings they need to insist and advocate for their children and THE SERVICES THEY NEED! They should not be provided according to what is already in place at the school. It is time that parents SPEAK UP and BAND TOGETHER!
Katie Bittner January 18, 2012 at 04:42 PM
I called the district today - the Special Education meeting will be at the District Office Monday January 23. I stated that we also need the information about the forum meetings and that STAFF FROM THE SCHOOLS SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THOSE FORUMS. The secretary I spoke with said that Ms. Mroz is the one in charge and all inquiries should be directed to her.
Anne January 18, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Missing from this entire discussion is input from the feeder High School, DHS, logically they should have input especially when it is time to transition. It has been my experience that what Dist 109 does or how Dist 109 manages kids with IEP's is not sufficient to prepare kids for High School, and it imposes an additional burden on the High School to make up for lost time. Too long have parents been silent regarding the misuse and abuse that the district has shone towards kids who have been identified as needing special services. Enough is Enough!
MSB January 25, 2012 at 02:10 PM
When an "educator" makes a statement about how they "over identified" children who need special services, it is time for them to step down or be removed from office. Blinded by her high salary and free benefits, she has clearly lost sight of why she was hired and why she is in her profession. I hope these published comments follow Dr. Goier when she interviews for her next position. It is moronic and unethical for an educator to make such claims. It is similar to a physician telling you that, despite your diagnosis, you cannot be treated because government statistics indicate that there are too many people in the community with your disease. This is very telling of how she is currently delivering and plans to deliver services to her students. If resources are truly limited, then you have a choice. Creatively work with parents, educators and support staff to offer the best services possible –which would require a plan or EFFORT and be advocating on the students’ behalf for more resources. OR you can deny services – which is what she chose to do.
MSB January 25, 2012 at 02:13 PM
We see this in practice: Forcing parents to pay for private evaluations for proof of need; Reducing the number of children on IEPs so that the district is not legally obligated to provide services; Removing the use of resource rooms; Putting in nasty gatekeepers who deny/reduce services to the point where you need to bring legal representation to IEP meetings; Reducing the number of tenured Special Education teachers so that they are afraid to speak out on behalf of their students; Refusing to respond to inquiries/issues that parents bring to her and her immediate staff’s attention. Given her educational philosophy, I would welcome all the parents of these “over identified” students to come forward and let the schools know that they are no longer in need of services so that more money could be freed up for those that do. Yeah, not happening – the needs are real, not a government quota. Why would an educator be so insensitive and cruel? I know she wants a new office space and that would be hard to pass in referendum; so is she building her crystal palace on the backs of special education students?
Mara Meyer January 25, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Perhaps all the community should provide proof of evaluations and tutoring to the District to underscore the shirking of the District's responsiblity for servicing these children. this is not a recent issue, this is truly a philosophical issue for over at least the last 12 years!
Katie Bittner January 25, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Also if parents can prove services their children need we're not provided and they had to pay for outside tutoring , social work services those bills should be presented to the district to be paid as a result of compensatory services . Parents of students with disabilities need to not be afraid to speak up!!!!! And more importantly know their rights and speak to others who can assist them .
renee September 29, 2012 at 09:27 PM
I have a child with Autism and have moved once to try to find a good school for her. I moved from chicago to wisconsin and have not found better services here at all. I was recently recomended to Deerfield for their excellent spec. ed. services. My daughter is severe and would require a 1:1 most definitely. I am a special ed teacher too! I was wondering, after I read all of these posts if Deerfield really does have great programs anymore. Would any parents here be willing to email me their recommendations? thanks so much theactress8@yahoo.com

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