Staffers who abuse special education students “don’t appear to have the skills they need … and clearly don’t have the supervision they need,” said Brenda Considine, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Coalition for Special Education Funding Reform.
“It’s ironic that this stuff is garnering so much attention because we just passed one of the toughest anti-bullying laws in the country aimed at stopping kids from bullying one another,” said Considine. “Here’s clear-cut evidence that (school employees) are engaged in bullying.”
“I understand the outcry,” said Assemblyman Dave Rible, R-Monmouth, who has called for improvements to special education in New Jersey. “No one wants to see their children degraded or hurt.”
Rible last week urged legislative action on a measure he’s sponsored to create a task force of special education experts.
“The whole crux of my bill is to examine special education, how we’re spending money there and how we can improve it,” said Rible. “If we’re providing a service, we’ve got to provide the best possible service.”
He and Considine expressed concern that special education students could suffer as districts seek to cut costs by bringing such services into their schools, rather than paying steep tuitions to private organizations.
“I’m not against public schools,” said Rible. “But we’ve got to make sure those teachers are provided the tools that they need.”
Among other measures, Considine said, administrators should regularly pop into special education classrooms to monitor staffers’ performance. And she said detailed records should be kept for each student, so that potential problems can be addressed as early as possible.