Concerned Parent Group of Colchester

Parent Statement #5


Hello My name
is Jeffrey Higgins . My wife and I live in Colchester. We would like this
statement attached to the public record and added to the minutes of this
meeting. Our youngest child has been in the Colchester school system with
special Ed needs. I have been appalled at Katherine R. Shaughnessey, Director
Department of Pupil Services & Special Education... I have found that since
she started coming into IEP, 504, and PPT meetings she has systematically
delayed actions that would help my child. She was extremely resistant to the
idea of having a neuropsychologist evaluate my child despite 2 years of severe
difficulty with my child's learning. I had been requesting additional
evaluations due to many components of my child's learning difficulties not
being explained by ADHD. I have been put off and delayed and put off again. I
had to come into a third meeting ( with many months of wasted time for my
child) and in fact "demand" a Neuropsyche evaluation.. I was told it
was not needed... I was told it would find nothing new. the Director of Pupil
Services was extremely resistant to any additional testing for my child.
Despite this after 3 meetings we were finally referred to a neuropsychologist.
He did extensive testing over multiple days. Took information from us,
teachers, medical specialists.. did a thorough evaluation with a 24 pg
report... and came up with a primary diagnosis for my child of Autism Spectrum
Disorder as well as ADHD. We got this report only a few days before school
ended in 2013. Katherine R. Shaughnessey, Director Department of Pupil Services
& Special Education upon getting this report sets up a quick special
meeting a few days after School ended in June of 2014. At this meeting I am not
told what extra help my child will get . The meeting with Katherine Shaughnessey
and the Math coordinator for Colchester student sat down with me to tell me how
my child should do the EXACT same math in the EXACT same way ( multiple
methods, inconsistently presented to an Autistic/ADHD student mean she does not
learn) I am told at this meeting that page on page 12 of her 24 page evaluation
there is a two sentence section that says my child has too high a score in math
for the many recommendations for additional assistance. This is why The
Director and the Math coordination are telling me my child should not get
additional math help. I explained to them that the system they were endorsing
was tried for a full year. My child now had to repeat fourth grade. My child
had been worse in math at the end of that school year than at the beginning.
They would not discuss anything about the 24 pages on how my child’s needs
consistent simple rote learning. One on one of very small quiet settings so my
child is not to overwhelmed to learn.. nothing about what they are going to do
for my child the following school year... only two educators telling me how my
child should not get special help in math. how my child should not be pulled
from the classroom when multiple methods are taught... but to continue the same
failed system of the previous school year that my child had to repeat. It was
after this meeting that the Director said to me “You realize your child will
only ever be a bagger at the grocery store! Get use to it" I wait all
summer and go to my next meeting to set up an IEP.. Since my child has started
this school year without one. I am told by the Director of Pupil Services that
she does not believe my child has Autism. I am given absolutely no reason for
this opinion. No reason why she is not taking a professional opinion from a
town paid neuropsychologist. The same Neuropsychologist the town suggested.
Instead we are told that the Director wishes a brand new teacher who has just
joined the school to do a 'small set" of tests on my child. We requested
our child’s primary diagnosis on her IEP to be changed to Autism to more
accurately reflect her primary diagnosis. Without any explanation The Director
refuses to change her diagnosis to Autism on her paperwork.. but insist on
putting ADHD with additional unknown difficulties. The professional evaluation
was ignored by the Director of Pupil Services. I was also told that it was a
medical diagnosis not an educational one.. and as such they did not have to
follow any of the recommendations in the report. I have found that unless I am
willing to go back again and again.. call time after time and have my husband
miss work to attend multiple meeting always many weeks or months apart thus
delaying services to my child for as long as possible.... Unless I push and
fight tooth and nail for help. the Director of Pupil Services systematically
denies it. I am told that it is a medical diagnosis not and educational one...
but the TOWN paid for this Neuropsychologist...I took the time to go to 3
appointments with my child. and then she ignores the results for as long as
possible. I am in complete agreement with many of the parents in town I have
spoken to that the Director of Pupil Services • Ignoring recommendations from
professional evaluations • Ignoring, dismissing and disagreeing with official
medical diagnoses • Predetermining placement, services, etc., unilaterally and
prior to PPT meetings • Unprofessional behavior and treatment of parents •
Intimidation of parents She has also said to me in the IEP meeting in Sept 2014
in front of a room full of teachers. "You realize that we cannot Fix your
child that no matter what we do she will only ever learn to her very limited
ability" This was the reason why she stated that my child should not get
the extra services In math that the neuropsychological report says she NEEDS. I
have had the Director of Pupil Services try to intimidate me into backing down
and not demanding the things my child NEEDS to learn. I have been spoken to
unprofessionally. I feel that due to her failed leadership and the systematic
delaying of special ed help that my child was harmed! We wasted almost a year
and a half delaying... Now my child has the services that were recommended by
the neuropsychologist... and this year my child has finally started
flourishing. It is amazing that since many of the neuropsychologists recommendations
were implemented how amazingly well my child has done! It is my wish that you
do not renew the Director of Pupil Services contract or extend it in any way...
so no other parents have to fight this hard to get help the help their children
have a right to! No one who shows this much disdain for special education
students and their families should be in a position that has such power over
the educational needs of those students. the Director of Pupil Services has
been your representative. With total authority over our childrens learning. I
will also say that I am one of those parents that fears retribution to my child
and her education services because I am speaking out against the Director of
Pupil Services. I do fear it will cause services for my child to be diminished
or changed. I wish to thank the Board of Ed for hearing these grievances. I am
in firm hopes that the board will do something about the outrageous actions of
this town employee. As you can see by the number of people who are here to
speak tonight. This is not a onetime action by a well meaning employee. This is
a systematic delaying of services, intimidation of parents, disregarding of
professional diagnoses, and unprofessional behavior. She does not in any way
live up to the standards of our town. In the past we have supported the Board
of Education Members the superintendent and Town employees. We may not do so in
future elections if the town fails to properly address this matter.




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