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Paterson, NJ: Number of SPED students grows 5% in one year

Dec 22, 2017, NorthJersey.com: Contract dispute leaves Paterson special education students waiting 10 months for speech services http://www.northjersey.com/story/news/paterson-press/2017/12/22/contract-dispute-leaves-paterson-special-education-students-waiting-10-months-speech-services/974802001/ Children in special education in Paterson have been waiting 10 months to get speech therapy sessions they lost last February because of a contract dispute between the school district and a private company, according to officials. Starting in January, the district plans to provide speech classes on Saturdays for the children who lost sessions when contractual problems arose between the district and the company, Clifton-based Kid Clan, officials said. Hundreds of children were getting speech and other therapy services though the district’s therapy contract with Kid Clan. Officials have not clarified exactly how many of those youngsters still have not received the make-up therapy sessions. … The size of the district’s special education staff has grown by about five percent, from 890 educators to 935, over last year, according to officials. But at the same time Paterson Public Schools’ overall special education budget went down from $69.6 million in 2016-17 to $66.8 million in 2017-18. … Back in October, the administrator who oversees special education services in Paterson, Cheryl Coy, gave the school board an extensive presentation about efforts to improve the program. The increases in staff includes a supervisor, special education teachers, instructional aides, therapists and a social worker, according to district officials. As part of the improvement plan, the district has added six speech therapists to its payroll, to reduce the reliance on outside contractors, officials said. “We did address our staffing shortages to the best of our ability,” Corallo said, making note of the difficulty in finding people qualified for the specialized positions.