Wednesday, November 28, 2012

1 Autism Programs at the Irving Middle School - Letter to John Verre

Dr Carol Johnson is the Superintendent of BPS. In early 2009, during a meeting at the Roslindale Community Center with families from Roslindale and the BPS West Zone because families were demanding a K-8 school in Roslindale, Dr. Johnson promised resources and improvements at the Irving Middle School to help create a "feeder pattern" aka K-8 experience for the 7 Roslindale schools. When asked at the meeting, by me, whether our PDD/Autism, LD and other specialty strands and programs which some of our elementary schools had would also be part of this Pathway, Dr. Johnson promised they would add the programs needed, specifically an Autism/PDD strand and programs, at the Irving. Dr. Johnson has reiterated this promise several times at public meetings as well as through other conversations.  

John Verre is the Asst. Superintendent for Special Education & Student Services in Boston Public Schools. To date, he has still not put an Autism strand and programs at the Irving, despite myself, Arthur Unobsky (Irving Principal) and others discussing it with him.  Below is my latest email to him regarding this issue, copied to Dr. Johnson, Arthur Unobsky, Martha Pierce - Mayor's office, Councilors Consalvo, Arroyo and Connolly (all who took part in the meetings above and have since been supporters of the Roslindale Pathway).  

Dear John,

On February 1st of this year I spoke with you about a number of issues and though some were resolved, others are not. Specifically, I am concerned that nothing has been done to plan for an Autism strand and programs at the Irving starting in September of 2013 as part of the Roslindale K-8 Pathway which you and I discussed during the phone call on February 1.

As you are aware, one of the promises Dr. Johnson made to the Roslindale school families in 2009 was that an Autism strand and programs would be placed at the Irving within a couple of years so our children in the Mozart PDD program and other children on the spectrum from the 6 elementary schools would be able to have the same opportunity to continue in their Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), just like all the other children in the Roslindale Pathway. Dr. Johnson reiterated the promise of an autism strand/programs at the Irving to our families at a community meeting on January 25, 2010.

As a parent at the Irving and member of the Roslindale Pathway Advisory Group (RPAG - formerly Irving AG), I asked Arthur if he had heard anything to date about planning for the Autism strand as we are in the midst of school preview time. I was disturbed to find out that in addition to nothing being done yet, that when Arthur brought it up to Nadia Cyprien and the other members of your department working with Arthur on other special education issues, they claimed to have no knowledge of any such plan for and Autism strand or programs. As we are in the midst of school preview time, it is important to us as a school to be able to let families know that programs for children on the spectrum will definitely be available to their child if they chose the school (aside from the IEP placement process). Additionally, school budget season is fast approaching, and in order for the SSC and Arthur to effectively plan for next year we need to have this issue resolved now. Since we are also in the midst of re-designing our school assignment plan, which is supposed to take effect in September 2014 no matter which model is adopted, in addition to all the delays we have already experienced with this promise, there is an even greater urgency for all of us to make sure this is addressed right away.

I am requesting that you immediately inform Nadia to set up meetings with Arthur, myself and anyone else Arthur feels should be in the meetings to initiate the planning for an Autism strand at the Irving starting in September, 2013. Please respond to me regarding this issue by Monday, December 3.

Thank you for your time and prompt attention to this matter.
Karen

 

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