Concerned Parent Group of Colchester

Parent Statement #1

If you’re lucky, your son will do as well as a valet, parking cars
She’ll never learn to read- get over it
Your child will only go as far as bagging groceries

   How would you feel if you were told this when your child was young? There are countless parents in this town and in this room tonight that have heard that and far
worst things by the director of special education. 
On January 29, 2015 a group of 25 parents met with Jeff Mathieu (Superintendent),  Michael Voiland (BOE member), and Ron Goldstein (BOE Chairman) to express serious concerns about the proposal before the board to renew The Director of Spec. Ed contract for an additional 2 years. Every person in this group has had specific concerns about this individual that have been communicated to Superintendent Mathieu over the years with absolutely no action taken. At the meeting, each parent brought with them statements which detailed a history of offensive, unprofessional behavior on the behalf of the director, including actions in direct violation of the Federal IDEA law. These include:
·       Changing IEP’s outside of a PPT without
parental knowledge or consent

·       Holding PPT’s in parent’s absence in spite
of parent’s request to be included

·       Unprofessional, offensive behavior and
treatment of parents

·       Intimidation and retribution directed
towards parents and teachers who disagree with the directors recommendations

·       Misrepresenting PPT discussion in IEP documents

·       Failure to document parent concerns in
an IEP in spite of parents requests

·       Ignoring, dismissing and disagreeing
with medical diagnosis and professional evaluations

·       Predetermining placement, services etc.
unilaterally and prior to PPT meetings

These actions have caused a large number of parents to hire attorneys or advocates to get basic services for their children, causing hardships on families and unnecessary financial burden to the town.
After the meeting, the parent group was told that the BOE would be hiring an interim
position to investigate these complaints and chair PPT meetings. However, when the position was brought before he board for approval, it was presented to the public as simply a means to help the current director catch up on her workload since there had been recent retirements in that department. Regrettably, no mention of our concerns was included.

Subsequently, the parent group sent two emails to the BOE asking for
clarity and transparency in the position, without success. In addition, we are unaware there has been any movement by the BOE to look into any of these parent complaints, despite the fact that group has now grown to approximately 50 families.
Every family in the parent group has expressed fear of retribution by this director
as a result of this complaint. It’s a feeling of intimidation and bullying combined with fear that our children will somehow pay the price, as in services being cut. These feelings cannot be measured or quantified and are based on our own individual experiences with
her. When a group this large is so fearful to express and assert their rights,
there’s a much deeper problem that exists.  This pattern of intimidation combined
with the other issues, shows a systematic problem in our special education
department resonating from both the direct and indirect actions of this

This parent group would ask that the BOE investigate these complaints and hold the superintendent as well as the director of special education accountable since many of these complaints were brought to the attention of the superintendent with no obvious
action to investigate or correct. We hold the BOE and Superintendant
responsible for the issues of the past and current issues with this department.
They have been informed of these issues and have repeatedly chosen the path of
little or no action.

This group’s goal is simply to improve the environment that families encounter when working with the Spec Education department in the Colchester school district. To this
end we have two requests: 1.) Bar this director from chairing PPT’s within the
district for the duration of her contract; 2.) Challenge the board not to approve
the request of the director to be rehired for an additional period after her
retirement in November 2015.

Included with this statement is a list of parents of Special education children that
have signed this statement in the hopes that the board recognizes these issues
and agrees they should not continue. They should not continue because of the
negative light they shine on our town, because of the undue stress and anxiety
this individual’s action have on our families, and because it is the right
thing to do.  In the past, the majority of these parents have supported the school budget as well as your position on the BOE. This will no longer happen if this situation is not corrected. This group as well as the citizens that support it here tonight will be at every board meeting until we get justice for our children.



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