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Advocates Oppose New Special Ed Regs

Beryl Kaufman, Executive Director of Connecticut Association for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities (CACLD), is alarmed by proposed changes to special education regulations by the Connecticut State Department of Education. “We are voicing substantial opposition,” says Kaufman. "We believe these changes will negatively affect students with special learning needs."

Specifically, Kaufman and advocates throughout the state are opposed to the proposed process of identifying students for special education services. The new regulations would stipulate, in many instances, that a child isn't eligible for special education services until other interventions have been tried and have failed. Currently, students suspected of having a learning disability are supposed to be evaluated and become eligible for education programs within 45 school days.

“If the regulations are implemented, a student with a disability could be forced to endure years of failure before getting the special education services the student needs and to which the student is entitled by law,” writes Noreen J. O'Mahoney, a special education advocate in a letter sent out to CACLD members. O’Mahoney and Kaufman are preparing comments and concerns on the draft regulations for a public hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 22 in Middletown, Connecticut.

Over the last year, CACLD along with other groups, worked on the new regulations, but Kaufman says, “our concerns are not reflected in this draft document.”  She also questions the timing of the hearing, which falls just as the school year is beginning.  “There was no opportunity for wide participation. Parents are still not aware of what is going on.”

Based in East Norwalk, CACLD has more than 1,000 members throughout Fairfield County.  An educational resource for families, CACLD organizes an annual conference on learning disabilities, runs a call-in help line, provides parent training and has an in-house advocate who advises parents.

The proposed revised regulations are available at www.sde.ct/gov . Comments can be sent via email to Terri DeFrancis at the CT State Department of Education, Theresa.defrancis@ct.gov

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