Working with the Power Parent Movement Team, we come across many parents and their stories. Some we can assist and are happy to do so. We get no reward other than assisting a fellow parent and families with solutions to issues they are facing that feel like they have nowhere to turn. At times we are successful, the research, calls emails or social media posts pay off. Then there are times when it feels we have hit a brick wall ourselves.
I heard from a parent over the weekend that we have been communicating with since September of 2014. Once we connect with a parent or family, we develop relationships with them and follow up even after they find a resolution. The parent at this time wishes to remain anonymous, as many do as they fear speaking up will result in their child paying the ultimate price. This parent contacted us as she was trying vigorously to get her child evaluated and into a Prek class in NPS.
SEPTEMBER 3, 2014:
Parent was referred to us as her daughter has a child speech delay. The delay was also causing social delay issues. Family was using speech therapist and felt special needs and an IEP would be needed. She called NPS and was transferes to Special Education Dept. Special Ed said she would need to speak with Child Study Team. She was told she had to wait for her child's evaluation and she would be contacted. We recommend while waiting to contact and file official complaints to some other avenues to speed things up. The parents also contacted : Mayor Ras Baraka's Office, Newark Public Schools, Office of the Ombudsman Nancy J. Deering, Joseph Zarra, Interim Executive County Superintendent, Commissioner David Hespe, Education Law Center, Rutgers School of Law, Education and Health Law Clinic and of course SPAN.
She recieved this response from SPAN
While ONE Newark is a mess, especially for children with disabilities, it is very disappointing to me that the district was not able (willing) to follow the law and its own stated policy for evaluation and potential identification for special education services of pre-school children. As noted in the attached notice from the NPS website, the district purportedly offers free screening for children 3-5 years of age whether they are enrolled in a school or not. Were you able to capture the names and titles of the individuals in special education who told you otherwise?
You can refer your child for evaluation. It is best to make the request in writing. I am attaching a form of letter that you can use to make the request. You should hand deliver the letter, AND e-mail it AND send via regular mail with a return receipt.
If you send me your phone number, I can have someone from my office, with more knowledge of Newark's processes, give you a call.
We followed up with her on September 20, 2014 and when asked "Have you made any progress?" This is the response we received " Not yet but they have 20 days to respond. Odd because I called Early Childhood for my son 3 days ago and he has his evaluation today lol. "
There after, we had some correspondences about schools and the application process. Every time we asked about progress for her daughter she would answer with "NO!" This led into almost the 2014 holiday season and call after call she would still be told someone will get back to her. You see she was a resident of Newark's East Ward District and pre-k seats were tough to come by. She tried applying to Lafayette St. School as it was the closest. Still no evaluatio or call from the Child Study team. The family was just about to pay to have her evaluated when she reveived a letter to come down to the One Newark Enrollment Center. The Enrollment Center for parents is like walking into KGB headquarters! Like crossing into enemy lines! So Mom did and was told her daughter could not attend Lafayette St. School, her neighborhood school. Her daughter would have to go to 13th Avenue School way across town. No evaluation, NO IEP from Child Study Team. Mom was told she had to go to 13th Avenue. Unfortunately, both parents were required to be at their employers before 7am and their before care sitter did jot have a car so there would be no way they would be able to drop the child off way across town. It was just impossible! Their daughter of course way to young to endure public transportation. The district, not supplying transportation to and from school. So we tried calling the district as well as the parent and they said " They did not have notations of any calls from this parent." Emails and calls form the parents and our team were maden over several weeks. Same response "We will get someone to contact you back." First round came and went!
The Parents reapplied and by round two
Jul 24, 2015 eight schools were applied to through One Newark and eight schools were denied to this family! How is that for choice! The familiy has totally given up! The child wants to go to school. The family wants the child to go to a neighborhood school. They now will be entering the child into private school. Incurring over $10,000 to educate their child. They have to wait until December 2015 and have to travel from Newark to Clifton as many schools are facing over booking. A tremendous financial burden and stress on the family but they are left with no choice!
Dear Superintendent Cerf, is this the choice you are allowing to plague Newark parents and families? You had an opportunity to come in and end this. End the One Newrk debacle...NO YOU ARE JUST THE CLOSER!
ONE MORE NEWARK PUBLIC SCHOOL FAMILY...BITES THE DUST!