NORWALK, Conn. – While not overtly deprived of services, Norwalk’s Special Education students are not receiving an optimal amount of instruction due to shortcomings of the system, according to a new report by an expert panel.
The Capitol Region Education Panel (CREC) Tuesday outlined several areas where the school system fell short of making recommended improvements to the city’s Special Education program over the last four years. The areas included tightening inequities between Special Education efforts in different schools.
CREC, which did an extensive review of the Special Education program in 2008, was asked to update and measure the progress the district made over the period.
While the instructors and administrators in the Special Education program received praise for their overall efforts working with students, the district had not implemented many of the suggestions from 2008, including hiring more staff and better communicating between the central office and schools and individual schools among themselves, the report found.
CREC presented its findings during a Board of Education meeting in City Hall Tuesday night.
“I hope we can all agree to give resources to the Special Education staff for after-school and other programs that they deserve,” said Norwalk resident and Deputy Corporation Counsel M. Jeffry Spahr, who has a son in the Special Education program.
Margaret MacDonald, a director at CREC, said part of the problem with the program is that individual schools are doing things differently because the central office staff does not have the authority to do make changes when necessary.
“It’s been a bit of a free-for-all,” MacDonald said. “Parents are feeling that there are inequities between schools.”
To improve the program, CREC recommends the school system develop a better decision-making hierarchy as it relates to Special Education, implement and monitor consistent standards across all schools and improve communication between schools and parents, among other things.