Stories and Grievances: Special Education
Stuyvesant High School Does Not Service Special Ed Kids
Students are pushed out or dumped into "resource room" staffed by the UFT representative. I know. It happened to my daughter, and this is my daughter's story. Betsy Combier Founder and President, The E-Accountability Foundation and parentadvocates.org
According to Mr Jay Biegelson, Assistant Principal for Special Education at Stuyvesant High School in New York City, any child smart enough to get into Stuyvesant needs no special services. Stuyvesant High School is one of four "specialized high schools" established under Education Law 2590-g which also applies to Bronx Science, Brooklyn Technical and Fiorello La Guardia High Schools. La Guardia excluded (only audition and "satisfactory" grades - now above a 90 average - in middle school are required), all the other three schools admit students in 9th and 10th grades based upon the scored outcome of the Specialized Science High School Achievement Test (SSHAT). Any 8th or 9th grader who gets above the first cut-off (two years ago this was 559, last year 571) gets accepted to Stuyvesant; any scorer between 523-570 gets into Bronx Science, and any scores 488-523 gets accepted to Brooklyn Tech. These cut off points change every year.
Last year three more high schools were added to this list:
High School of American Studies at Lehman College
Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College
Federal, State and City laws apply to these and all schools listed as "Public" in New York State as well as in any other State. We have information which has led us to believe that the Specialized schools discriminate against, and deny,special education services to any child who enters any of the above with an Individualized Education Plan/Program.
Stuyvesant High School 1999-present
The following is a report by Betsy Combier, President of the E-Accountability Foundation and Editor, Parentadvocates.org:
My daughter received her first IEP in 1993 for Speech and Language therapy while attending a private school. She is very bright, but has auditory processing problems and a lisp which prevent her from reading, spelling, foreign language learning, and testing within time limits. But she has an amazing ability to test well on standardized tests, and got accepted to Stuyvesant High School after taking the SSHAT in January 1999 with 23,000 other kids. Her score was 588. She was given speech therapy twice/week through August 1999, when she entered Stuyvesant in 9th grade. We, her parents, were concerned about her attending such a demanding school, but she wanted to go. I brought her the first day, just as the Committee on Special Education told me to do, and I had the new evaluation and CSE recommendation in my hand. My daughter had a new IEP prepared on August 12, 1999.
I decided to become busy with the Parents' Association so that I could spend alot of time at the school, meeting teachers, in order to discuss (and watch out for) my daughter. Almost every week I asked Assistant Principal for Guidance Gene Blaufarb and Assistant Principal for Special Education Jay Biegelson if my daughter had all her services, and I was assured that she did. I was very concerned that I did not receive any notices from the Committee on Special Education for an evaluation/review at the end of her freshman year, but trusted that the APs at Stuyvesant were doing their job complying with IDEA and my daughter's IEP and both Mr. Blaufarb and Mr. Biegelson assured me that my daughter was doing well and she was receiving all the services she needed. They were very pleased with her "leadership" and academic performance. I unfortunately believed them. I also knew that the DOE evaluated kids on a trienniel basis, and as we had just completed the triennial in August of 1999, I thought that Stuyvesant would re-evaluate my daughter in 2002.
She did well her sophomore year first semester, then her grades began to go down. I continued to ask Gene and Jay if everything was ok, and they told me that she was a terrific kid, and just needed adjusting to the school. Again, I trusted that everything would work out, and would wait for the re-evaluation in 2002, as Gene and Jay assured me would happen.
My daughter's Junior year was a horror - she could not, she told me, do the tests. I had never at that point heard of a 504. In March 2002 I went to Jay's office and asked to see my daughter's file. He finally gave it to me, and I saw that the IEP I had sent and brought to Stuyvesant when my daughter entered was missing, and a new IEP had replaced it. This new IEP stated that at an October, 1999 "evaluation", my daughter had been de-certified. There were no tests, only her two scores from her 7th grade English and Math city-wide tests and a note by the "speech" evaluator (I still don't know who this person is) saying my daughter seemed "fine". Jay Biegelson had signed his name on the "Parent/Guardian" line, giving his permission for my daughter to receive no services whatsoever based upon this secret "evaluation" which took place in October 1999 at the school. The group of teachers on the IEP had never informed me that there was a meeting, and I later found, in the records room of the High School Committee on Special Education, the original form with the parent's tear-off strip still attached. It had never been sent. I was extremely upset that I had been left out of the de-certification process, and also that Jay had used my daughter's 7th grade city-wide scores to de-certify her from receiving her services. There were no other tests done.
Jay then told me that he would give me a 504, so he wrote a 504 form and handed it to me. I was very happy with this, because I thought that this would be the answer to my daughter's testing problems and she was in her junior year, so she needed to take her SAT tests. I thanked Jay many times. I paid for Huntington Learning Center to tutor my daughter, and she did a little above average on her SAT. I also paid to have an independent evaluation done of my daughter, and results told me that my daughter still needed services, with the addition of emotional counseling after all of this negativity coming from her school teachers and counselors. The resource room teacher all year was Dorothy Suecoff, the UFT representative at the school who had no certification to work with special ed kids.However, as Stuyvesant had de-certified my daughter without telling me, she was not sent to resource room, as she was not listed as a special ed student.
The High School Superintendency Committee on Special Education again did an evaluation, and found that my daughter needed nothing because, as they put it, they "saw she could talk without difficulty" and she was smart. It did not matter that her reading level was 5 grade levels below her current grade.
Her senior year started fine, I believed, until in October my daughter simply disappeared for about 10 days. We called the police, and found her, but she told us that she never wanted to go back to Stuyvesant. I asked her to come home, and she did. She was 17 years old.
In January I called the school and her guidance counselor, Sandy, was very distressed and told me that "They didnt even tell ME [her] that my daughter had been discharged!" I said "WHAT?"
I called the new AP for Guidance Eleanor Archie, and she told me that she thought my husband and I were divorced, as she had not seen me at the parent-teacher conferences, so she assumed that I was no longer involved with my daughter. She told me that a letter was sent to me in October notifying me of my daughter's discharge, she had put the stamp on it herself. I asked her to prove it. She said that she had asked for it to be placed into a mailbox and this was the proof.
I immediately called the Principal Stan Teitel, and asked to meet with him. A meeting was set up on Thursday, January 30. On January 27 at approximately 2:45 PM. I received a call from Jay, and he told me repeatedly that "Of course you know that your daughter would have been de-certified if there had been an evaluation." I disagreed, and said, "Well, there was none."
On January 30, 2002, I met with Ms Archie, Jay Biegelson, and Sandy Miller, the counselor. Jay brought with him the "evaluation" which had been done on my daughter in 1999 (I had never seen it before, and my signature was not on it). He also handed to me 4 pages of names, home addresses and telephone numbers of all the children in trouble at Stuyvesant, with personal comments next to the children's names. Next to my daughter's name it read "Needs IEP" and "no contact with the mother". (I edited the Stuyvesant High School PA Bulletin at the time, and was in the school on a daily basis). Mr. Teitel asked the three employees where my signatures were on any documents. No one answered.
I hired a lawyer and at the Impartial Hearing the Hearing Officer, Linda Agostin, and the Assistant Director of the High School CSE Martha Siegel, discussed how the IEP Jay signed his name to in 1999 was not valid, and then they both asked the court reporter to erase the transcript. The Impartial Hearing Officer ordered that I get re-imbursed for the independent Psychologist's report I had paid for, and wrote that I had agreed to settle the case once this $2000 was received. I was shocked, because I had asked for alot more, and had never said that I would settle. My daughter's records were never transferred to her new school, City-as-School, so Stuyvesant still received the money even though my daughter was not there. Eleanor Archie told me that she had taken the discharge and had made it retro-active to September, 2002, so my daughter would get no credit for any of her senior year classes.
I called Carol Kraus in Region 10 who knew me as the PTA President of Booker T. Washington MS 54 and the person who was helping the special education parents there get services for their children, and she agreed to help me get a new IEP. She gave me a voucher for $300 to have my daughter tested independently by a speech/language therapist, which was done in the fall of 2003. The therapist recommended assistive technology, counseling,as well as speech and language therapy.Carol then scheduled an evaluation meeting. The Region 10 CSE told me that my daughter needed an IEP for extreme depression, but no speech/language services. I asked Why?
The CSE told me that the therapist had not listed a time for therapy, therefore they could not give it. I asked when they would write the IEP, they said in 3 days. So, I called the therapist up and asked whether she could kindly put a time onto the recommendation. She immediately agreed, and faxed me an official recommendation for 2 X 45. (45 minutes twice/week). I faxed over this letter with the doctor's signature, and heard nothing for another week. At the beginning of February I called Carol who told me that she would fax me the IEP. When I received the IEP I saw that my daughter was still not getting any speech/language therapy. I called Carol Kraus, and she told me "You think that I would accept a fax from you?? I certainly would not. Besides, the Doctor told me that she did not think that your daughter needed anything but more tests right now."
I did not believe this, so I called the doctor, she took notes of the telephone call from Carol Kraus on January 21 and January 26, 2004: 'This parent coerced you into giving this recommendation, didn't she? You don't think this child needs any services, and this parent forced you to write this, right? Well, we are not giving this young woman anything'.
I called Carol back and asked her why she would say that I had forced the doctor into a recommendation she did not think was warranted?
After a moment of silence, Carol told me that she had no more time to give as far as getting my daughter the services she needed, so she was just going to fax me a new IEP with all the services I asked for. Within 1 hour I received a fax from Carol Kraus, and a new IEP. I now had the IEP I had sought for 5 years. A few days later I took my daughter to meet Ms. Toni Scarpinata, Assistant Principal for Special Education at City As School. We discussed my daughter's program, and Toni told my daughter she should comply, because her (Toni's) retirement date was on her wall, July 1, 2008, and "no one was getting in her way." My daughter started her new program, with counseling, and I encouraged her to finish her high school education, now that we, together, her and I, had achieved such a wonderful victory. A few days later, according to her counselor Naima, my daughter arrived at school late. Toni screamed at her for this, and my daughter broke down. This was the end of February, 2004. My daughter was missing for 4 months, while we searched everywhere for her. The police would not help as, they told us, she was "not taking medication". At the end of May, 2004, we heard that my daughter had asked for some food at a parked homeless shelter soup kitchen in Thompkins Square park. A worker on this truck was a friend of another of my daughters. at least she is alive!!
Gene Blaufarb, Assistant Principal of Guidance: misrepresented for two years the services being provided for my daughter, saying that "everything is fine" when he secretly de-certified my daughter without telling me. His son, Jonathan, was Assistant Principal at P811M on the Upper West Side, the restrictive environment special education school that gave 10+ kids to Booker T. Washington MS 54 but never placed them on the roster of the school and they never received any of their services.
Jay Biegelson, AP for Special Education: Changed the IEP of my daughter sometime between October 1999 and March 2002, without telling her or me, thus taking away all of the services and de-certifying the child because of her 1997 English and Math city-wide test scores, the only tests listed on the new "IEP". Did not inform the parent of an "evaluation" done of her child in October, 1999, gave the parent a 504 accommodation in 5 minutes in 2002 when she discovered the de-certification in her daughter's file at the school, sabotaged the College Board giving her child extra time (did not send any data), and told the Impartial Hearing Officer that he signed his name on the parent line de-certifying the daughter because he "thought it was an attendance sheet." Gave the parent 4 pages of confidential information about all the kids at Stuyvesant in trouble, with personal comments about each one written in the margin, and wrote an evaluation of the child without the parent's consent or knowledge.
Eleanor Archie, AP for Guidance (replaced Gene Blaufarb): Took my daughter off of the roster of Stuyvesant because she "thought the parent was divorced and was not involved anymore". She believes she sent the parent the discharge letter and it is strange that the parent says that she never got it, and cannot account for the lack of a signature on any papers attesting to the presence of the parent at any meeting about her daughter. Took parent off of the list to receive the Parent's Bulletin, and removed parent from the PA committees the parent worked on, without telling the parent.
Sandy Miller, Guidance Counselor: "They didnt even tell me that your child was discharged!" Stated that she knew all along that "Your child was not attending classes, and really needed to be at another school."
Stanley Teitel: placed UFT Representative Dorothy Suecoff in the Resource Room to service all the kids at Stuyvesant who needed special services, despite the fact that Ms. Suecoff had no training or certification to service these kids. Mr. Teitel refused to discuss with the parents what could be another school for their child, and allowed this student to be "pushed out" by the team of Blaufarb and Biegelson.
Martha Siegel, Assistant Director of Manhattan High Schools' Committee on Special Education: The child needs nothing, the evaluations prove this; we must erase the transcript of the Impartial Hearing (after Jay Biegelson told the Hearing officer that he signed his name on the parent line, de-certifying her daughter, because he "thought it was the attendance sheet"). Gave Jay Biegelson the 4 pages of confidential information of all the children in trouble at Stuyvesant (ATS roster), and forbade me from getting services for my daughter.
Carol Kraus: offered, after I told her that I had all of my daughter's records from Manhattan High Schools' records room, showing that Stuyvesant had never even sent me any notices about my daughter and had de-certified her illegally, to give me a $300 voucher to get an independent evaluation of her done in October 2003. I accepted, had the evaluation done, and then Carol called the doctor up and told her I coerced her, didn't I, into giving services, and there was no way the CSE would give my daughter anything. When I called the doctor and heard about this conversation, I told Carol that this doctor "whistleblew" her (Carol's) denial of services for my daughter, she agreed to give me everything that I needed for my daughter, and within 1 hour had faxed me the IEP that I had worked for for two years, and that my daughter needed for 5 years but was denied.
Toni Scarpinata:At the first and only meeting with me and my daughter in February, 2004, told my daughter that she would monitor her very closely because her retirement date of July, 2008 was coming soon, and my daughter would "not get in the way". Toni called me a few days later and arranged to "get my daughter " to finish her necessary credits, one way or another, then, a few days later, screamed at my daughter for arriving late (report by my daughter and Naima, her counselor): at a meeting after my daughter disappeared, Toni blamed me for everything, saying she was told by me to police my daughter into shape.