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Paterson, NJ: SPED services being denied to disabled kids

Feb 2, 2018, NorthJersey.com: Almost 2,000 children in Paterson owed speech therapy sessions https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/paterson-press/2018/02/02/new-jersey-nj-almost-2-000-children-paterson-owed-speech-therapy-sessions/302366002/ Chronic problems plaguing Paterson’s special education program have left almost 2,000 children waiting for overdue speech therapy services, the school district has disclosed. The state education department previously has confirmed Paterson’s special education failures, but officials had not revealed the extent of the problem or exactly how many children were affected until this week. Paterson has 1,960 students in grades pre-k through 12 who are owed a total 18,799 hours of therapy, according to information the district provided to Paterson Press on Thursday. The children affected by the backlog represent about 45 percent of the total number of special education students in the district. Officials have attributed the backlog to a variety of factors, including the district’s difficulties in hiring therapists. … out.” Special education advocates expressed shock at the number of children affect by the problem. They said they thought it was several hundred, not almost 2,000. … Former school board member Corey Teague called the situation “outrageous.” “It shows a pattern of failure on the part of the district,” Teague said. The already cash-strapped district could end up spending more than $1.4 million to cover the overdue therapy sessions. Last month, the district and its teachers’ union reached an agreement to increase the hourly pay rate from $34 to $75 for staff therapists to provide make-up sessions for the students after-hours. … “We’re going to have to find the money,” said Paterson’s acting schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer. “It’s the law. It’s not optional.” …