The Paterson Education Association (P.E.A.) is deeply disturbed by the prospect of utilizing students at Paterson School Number 18 as test cases for Online speech-language therapy in place of utilizing a traditional teacher. According to the Paterson Times, the Paterson School District is mulling the idea of providing approximately eighty-five (85) students with this service “Over a secure video conferencing connection as part of a pilot program with DotCom Therapy.”
For those who do not know, special education in the Paterson Public Schools has been a complete disaster under the leadership of Dr. Donnie Evans. As it stands, in collaboration with the P.E.A., the Educational Law Center has recently filed numerous complaints against the Paterson School District as it relates to special education. These complaints were made anonymously by parents and school employees due to the vindictive nature of the Evans.
If you are a parent reading this, you should be extremely angry. The District’s preposterous decision raises more concerns than existed before. For instance:
- How will students be assessed?
- How will online therapy address concerns for non-verbal students, such as adaptive communication?
- DotCom is a Missouri company. Will the practitioners be required to possess NJ certificates and meet al pre-employment requirements such as background checks pursuant to (N.J.S.A 18A:6-7.1)?
- Is DotCom considered a private clinic or agency? If so, has it been approved by the Department of Education through the county office pursuant to the approval process in 6A:14-5.2 (Approvals procedures for clinics or agencies?
- Which certificated staff will be supervising the student or students during the sessions at the school location?
- How will staff and parents have access to the therapists for consultation, progress reporting, etc.? Speech therapy does not occur in a vacuum.
Finally, in classic Paterson Public Schools form, when discussing this proposal Cheryl Coy was quoted as stating, “She stumbled upon the services of DotCom.” It is the Union’s sincere hope that the parents of our students in desperate need of specialized services in Paterson “stumble upon the services” of an expert Special Education lawyer and sue the District and all of the individuals responsible for hurting our children.
I have said it before, and I will say it again… Donnie Evans must go!
John McEntee, Jr.
President of the Paterson Education Association