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Paterson, NJ: Districts needs $1.5M to make up for denied speech help for 2,000 students

Nov 13, 2018, West Paterson, NJ, Paterson Times: Paterson needs $1.5 million to address special ed. speech backlog, says superintendent The school district needs $1.5 million to tackle the backlog of thousands of hours in speech therapy owed to special education students, superintendent Eileen Shafer said last week. Shafer said the district hired 20 speech therapists, bringing the total to 48 to ensure students receive services this year. “Now we have the speech therapists, but we need a million and half dollars to run a Saturday or an afterschool program, or both, to be able to provide these services to the children we owe,” said Shafer on Wednesday night. The district owed 18,800 hours of speech services to 1,960 students, according to data made public in February. Shafer promised to “make whole” special education students, who went without mandated services in the 2016-17 school year, when she became superintendent at the retirement of her predecessor Donnie Evans. … The district’s slow progress and failure to address the backlog shocked the Education Law Center which filed a fresh complaint with the New Jersey Department of Education, calling for a new investigation into the district’s special education program in late August. Shafer said the district is two years behind. Last school year, the district had difficulty recruiting speech therapists. Some wanted exorbitant amount of money and others declined to take assignments in rougher parts of the city for safety reasons. …

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