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Oxford, CT: SPED uses 20% of budget; district delays identifying dyslexia

Oct 28, 2018, Bridgeport, CT Post: Oxford parents’ group unsatisfied with special education programs Oxford, CT: Heidi Kolvig always thought highly of the Oxford school system. Her first two kids been breezing through with no problems. In fact, they’ve been challenged with a slew of honors and Advanced Placement classes, she said. Not so with her youngest, who has special needs. “When it comes to my young guy, it’s been a disaster,” said Kolvig. She is not alone in that opinion. A growing number of parents have come forward to challenge the special education services offered in this small residential community of about 1,850 students in western New Haven County. Oxford Advocates for Special Education now boasts a membership of more than 100 parents. Enrollment - 1,850 Students identified with disabilities: 235 or 12.7 percent Most prevalent disabilities: Learning Disability (including dyslexia), 77; Speech impairment, 47; Autism, 33; Attention Deficit, 32; Emotional disturbance, 13; Intellectually Disabled, 10. 2018-19 school budget — $30.03 million Amount budgeted for special education — $6.2 million As a group, they charge that the district delays or avoids identification of dyslexia, a reading disability. They question the progress their children are making, the training teachers receive and how records are kept. Additionally, they say individual education plans developed for students with special needs — which are mandated under the law — are not being followed and that data collected to monitor progress is sorely lacking. … As school budgets tighten, rising special education costs have become a growing concern, not just in Oxford but throughout the state. In recent years, a number of school districts, from Darien to Bridgeport, have been found to be in violation of state and federal special education laws, forcing changes in the way services are provided. … McGrath maintains that the entire process is broken. She described the culture of the special education department in Oxford as combative. She and others question whether the district is using Scientifically Research Based Interventions to stall the special education identification process. A state mandate since 2009, SRBI is a multistep approach used to provide extra support to students who are struggling to keep up in class. …


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