Meet the school board candidates Tuesday night

West Hartford SEPTA (Special Education PTA) is pleased
to invite everyone to one more opportunity to meet the
Board of Education Candidates, at Duffy School on
Tuesday October 30 from 7-9 pm.

This event is for everyone in the community, not just
for those interested in special education.

Please spread the word!  Attached is a flyer you can
reproduce.

Don’t be complacent…
 Show your interest in our schools

BOARD OF EDUCATION – MEET THE CANDIDATES NIGHT

Tuesday October 30, 7-9 PM
Duffy School Auditorium
95 Westminster Dr

Sponsored by West Hartford SEPTA

You are invited to submit questions for the candidates
to info@whsepta.org prior to the meeting or bring them
with you.

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30 Comments

Filed under Board of Education, education, Schools, SEPTA

30 responses to “Meet the school board candidates Tuesday night

  1. The Special Education group is another pillar of strength for WH Schools. I’d encourage the candidates from both parties to show up and give their support to this worthy PTA. God Bless these folks for the work they do.

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  3. King – Thanks for the very kind words.

    Just to reiterate – our forum at Duffy (this coming Tuesday, 10/30 from 7 – 9 PM) is for everyone interested in the Board of Education election.

    We invite you all to come out with your questions for the candidates – or if you’d prefer, email them to us in advance: info@whsepta.org

  4. Tonight is the night! Please join us for our Meet the Board of Education Candidates public forum!

  5. Gary Reger

    I was unable to attend the BoE candidate forum last night. Can anyone report?

  6. Sped Mom

    I’ll add my input from the perspective of a parent concerned about special ed in West Hartford.

    Frankly, I was shocked at the admitted lack of knowledge of some Board members with respect to special ed. Bruce Putterman seems to know a lot about the programs available to autistic kids, but not other disabilities. Terry Schmitt’s honesty about the Special Ed program being a serious problem that they have neglected was refreshing, but not necessarily encouraging. He said he gets lots of complaints from parents about the special ed program. Putterman stated that when he gets complaints from parents, he checks with Glenn McGrath to see if the complaint is legitimate. Interesting approach – – leaving the fox to guard the chicken coop. Claire Kindall didn’t have much to say at all about special ed in particular, except that they changed teacher assistant positions to paraprofessional positions during the budget cuts in order to have “more warm bodies” with the special ed students. She did have lots to say, however, about the Quest program being necessary to retain West Hartford’s “best and brightest”.

    It seems to me that Quest has been discussed endlessly (and don’t get me wrong, I believe we need gifted programs) but Special Ed does not cause as much serious discussion among Board members, or public comment. Terry Schmitt actually said there were two members of the Board, Putterman included, to whom he defers on issues of Special Ed. Kindall seemed to agree with him on that (but I can’t remember if she actually said it out loud). But if everyone defers to the two “experts”, how can something really be thoroughly investigated? For something as important as special education, it seems that the entire Board should attempt to educate itself.

    They did mention they would be discussing special ed at upcoming meetings to reevaluate what is going on. I hope they bring in an outside resource to do an impartial evaluation, rather than relying on the administration to self-report. I also hope they incorporate something like an anonymous survey to parents, to find out what is really going on in IEP meetings and with implementation throughout our schools.

  7. Beyond Talk

    So you didn’t like what you heard the candidates discuss at the SEPTA Meet the Candidates night?

    The Democrats showed up.

    NO Republican candidates went. Doesn’t their lack of interest speak volumes to how they feel about Special Ed? They want to cut the education budget. I’m sure the first place Republicans plan to axe is Special Education because it carries a high price tag. Republicans can whack Special Ed without going back on campaign commitments because they made none.

  8. Quest4More

    “…It seems to me that Quest has been discussed endlessly … but Special Ed does not cause as much serious discussion among Board members…”

    Oh please…the amount of money this Town spends on its special education programs probably dwarfs the Quest program by a factor of what:

    10 to 1?
    100 to 1?
    1,000 to 1?

    My point is that the amount we spend on Quest isn’t even close to what we spend on these kids. Yet no matter how much this Town spends–or how much of an effort is made to main-stream special needs kids–it never seems to be enough.

    Stop whining–you’re not the one with kids in middle school whose life-line to something more challenging than the standardized test blather got cut 50% this year.

  9. turtle

    Sped Mom,

    Thank you for that very interesting post.

    Bruce Putterman has an autistic child, so it follows that he would have particular familiarity with autism programs. I wonder who Putterman should consult about parent complaints if not McGrath, who’s responsible for Special Ed? (A sincere question, since you’re obviously very fluent on the subject.)

    You’re right about Quest, of course. It’s high on the agenda because Quest parents are a very vocal group who appear at BoE meetings in droves whenever Quest is threatened and generally keep Quest on radar.

    Special Ed encompasses many and various programs, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why Special Ed advocacy is more diffuse than for other issues and why some Board members aren’t as expert as you would like. I hope you’ve written them with your concerns; in my experience they’ve been genuinely receptive.

  10. WH Alum

    I hope this isn’t turning into a Quest or Special Ed debate… it’s obvious we need to address kids needs at all ends of the spectrum. Quest4More is right about the amount of $$ spent on SE being much higher than Quest – I would imagine they service a lot more kids. And I can’t believe for a moment that any BOE member, Dem or Rep would ever vocalize cutting back on Special Ed. Even if they thought about it – how “politically incorrect” would that be? (pun intended)

    Though it does speak volumes that Republican candidates did not appear Tuesday night…

  11. Sped Mom

    Beyond Talk, I agree with you 100%.

    Quest4more, maybe you misunderstood me. I’m not arguing the special ed gets less funding than Quest – – that would be ridiculous. And if you read my post carefully, you would have seen that I support gifted programming. What I’m trying to say was stated very concisely by turtle.

    The reason special ed parents don’t show up in droves is because they want their children’s privacy protected. It’s fine to go to B of E meetings and speak publicly about how much Quest has done for your child. Different story altogether to speak about your child’s special needs in front of the whole town. And if you say that we should speak out despite privacy concerns, ask any middle school student with a disability how they feel about that.

    As for my “whining”, I really don’t see the need to be uncivil about my post. I’m simply posting some of what they said along with my opinion, and what I think they could do to change things. That’s what this forum is for, no?

    Turtle, Bruce Putterman didn’t say he consults with Glenn McGrath, he said he asks him whether the complaint is legitimate. I think that accepting the word of the Director of Pupil Services on whether a complaint about his own administration is legitimate makes no sense. It’s like asking him to give his own performance evaluation. What are the alternatives? If they are getting as many complaints as they say they are about how the administration is handling identification of special ed kids and implementation of IEPs, maybe they need to have someone take an impartial look at how things are being done.

    As for expertise, I’m not expecting them to all be experts, just more knowledgeable than they professed to be. Hopefully that will happen when they start looking at the Special ed programs this year, which they did say they were going to do.

  12. John Hardy

    Quest4More: “Stop whining–you’re not the one with kids in middle school whose life-line to something more challenging than the standardized test blather got cut 50% this year.”

    I have to tell you, Quest4More, that your comments are absolutely insulting to those of us involved in Special Education in WH. Further, your comments are wildly naive. There are plenty of us with kids of varying abilities. And there are plenty of us who want to see all boats sailing high in the WHPS.

  13. Harry Captain

    “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25

    I felt compelled to look this up and post because whenever I think/hear this scripture, I am humbled.

    We all want strong public education. Let’s not pit one child’s needs against another’s.

  14. turtle

    Sped Mom,

    The privacy factor did occur to me, but I didn’t want to presume. (I have a citizen’s acquaintance with Putterman, by the way, and only know about his child through what he has said in public.)

    I do appreciate the distinction you’re making with regard to Putterman and McGrath, but whether or not the process is as circular as it sounds, you’re right that the board should get up to speed and constructively address parent concerns about special ed.

    Boy am I glad Harry Captain serves on the Board of Education.

  15. whmom

    What about the kids in the middle? My child has never had a special program in anyway. How do things count for us? I see the kids in “special programs” reading better and writing better… does that seem fair?

    I am so frustrated!

  16. eponymous

    *looks at previous post*

    *wonders about tone*

    *revises, per personal experiences*

    I see the kids in special programs “reading better” and “writing better”… does that seem fair?

    “I am so frustrated!”

    This frustration … this at least we share, whmom …

  17. Sped Mom

    whmom, can you elaborate? Do you mean that you have concerns about your child’s reading and writing that you feel have not been addressed? Or are you saying that you feel your child’s reading/writing are average, but the kids in special ed are reading/writing better than that? If it’s the former, have you spoken to the teacher and administration about it, and what was their response? If it’s the latter, my experience is that they typically don’t keep providing programs, special ed or otherwise, to kids once they hit grade level. My experience is also that a child with a true reading/writing/math disability doesn’t outperform the average student, even with programming.

    If your experience has been different, I’m sincerely interested in hearing about it.

    And truly, I’m not trying to pit special ed kids against quest kids. It’s hard to read tone in an online posting. Both deserve to get what they need to succeed. I’m simply noting that special ed does not get discussed as much at meetings, from what little I have, admittedly, seen, and that there are reasons for this, including parents’ concerns about privacy. What this means is that the B of E needs, in my opinion, to take a more critical look at what is reported by the administration, since they aren’t going to get lots of parents coming out with their stories.

  18. turtle

    Sped Mom, your generous post is impressive, but I think you may have misunderstood whmom’s remarks about the injustice of kids in “special programs” who read and write better than “kids in the middle”. I suspect that whmom is referring to Quest.

  19. whmom

    Sped mom,

    I believe that kids in the special ed programs should receive whatever resources are necessary for them to achieve the goals that they and their families aspire too.

    I am very sorry if I was not clear.

    Thanks turtle I was referring to Quest.

  20. turtle

    Terry Schmitt has served on the Board of Education for four years, yet The King misspelled his name “Schmidt” elsewhere on this blog. Now I know why: Radio Free West Hartford misspelled his name the same way, “Schmidt”, in its hamfisted endorsement of Joe Visconti.

    OK radical rightwingers, your core spelling words for today are Reverend Doctor Terry Schmitt. It’s OK if your parents help you.

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