Rochester, NY: SPED kids aren't getting the services they need; school psychologists on overtime

Nov 28, 2017, Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle: RCSD remains short-staffed, under-trained in special education Three weeks into this school year, special education reviews and paperwork were backing up in Rochester schools after the district failed to adequately train administrators on a new, important set of responsibilities. Children with special needs weren't getting the services they needed and school psychologists were working overtime trying to keep things in place. As has happened so many times in the past, the superintendent, Barbara Deane-Williams, said that she had heard the valid complaints and was already in the process of addressing them.... "I agree the process could have been stronger," she said. "There should have been more attention on it, and it's something we'll strengthen in the future." The first step in that strengthening process, Deane-Williams said, would be to solicit feedback from building administrators, asking them what they needed to know to do their jobs better. In an interview Sept. 22, she said that process was already underway. In fact, it was not. In response to a Freedom of Information request from the Democrat and Chronicle, the district acknowledged this week that it had collected no written feedback whatsoever following the debacle of the first few weeks of September. What's more, earlier comments from administrators directly after the training showed they were far from comfortable with their weighty new responsibilities. Special education chief Sandy Simpson said Tuesday she and other district leaders did collect information informally, and defended the district's direction in general.