Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NYS Regents - Autism 200 Regulations

I'm on many autism lists to keep up to date on Autism related news and information.  Today, the following article landed in my email.  If I haven't felt shitty enough lately about the ongong problems with the school district, this news rubs salt into an open wound.  What are the powers that be trying to do to our kids and parents who fight so hard to advocate for them:

Despite acknowledging hundreds of phone calls and emails and dozens of letters of opposition from various organizations from our community, the Regents voted the article 200 regulations into extinction - some actually chuckled while doing so. These regulations offered at least some protections for our children for speech services and class size and gave parents at least some degree of support in CSE meetings.

These regulations are now gone, dismissed with a wave of Regent Chancellor Tisch's hands.

The disdain was not universal; Some - like Chancellor Emeritus Bennett - expressed concern stating "I am very concerned that we are reducing services...I also fear that we are upsetting the balance of the relationship between parents and CSE chairs.  Regent Chapey - who has a back ground in speech, language and hearing - also stated openly that there was no research that supported reducing speech services to those with autism.  Further, Regent Cofield stated "There is distrust - We are not dealing with the distrust that people feel in the CSE process."

Some Regents like Nassau's Talis and Westchester's Phillips voiced support for the changes saying districts would take care of the families and would not cut services.
But, in the end, the Regents voted unanimously to cut speech services. Then some basically said that parents could use due process and "handle it that way." One Regent indicated that children with autism use up all the services leaving nothing for other children.

In the end, Chancellor Tisch simply stated that districts need flexibility. They voted with her. Chancellor Tisch and the Regents have green lighted school districts to cut speech to people who - in some instances - can't talk. Our children were not viewed as children with needs; they were viewed as "unfunded mandates."

I spoke to a few of the Regents - Chancellor Emeritus Bennett for a few minutes. He suggested that he was open to establishing a committee to focus on autism and connected me to an outraged member of NYSUT. My conversation with Mr. Phillips was not pleasant. I told Harry that he just did the wrong thing and he has no idea how badly he and the Regents have hurt families with autism.

Mike Smith and I spoke to the Albany Press. Later in the day, I spoke with a reporter from Newsday.

All of us who have had struggles with our children's CSEs know what is now going to happen. In this budget environment, it will likely mean the elimination of most speech services and stretching autism class rooms to the max - risking the safety of our children.

The New York State Education Department has walked away from our children. It is time to fight back.

I ask all of you to put this out on your lists and let our community throughout the state know what has happened here.

More to come.

Louis Conte
Autism Action Network

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