One of the conditions of the probation supplement was that the school create a plan to address the deficiencies in its special education program. Why these deficiencies exist is puzzling given that the schools founders had promoted the benefits of their proposed school for students with learning disabilities. The marketing rhetoric of one founder might have given some parents the impression of a Lourdes for the learning disabled. Another booster, a music teacher, went as far as to tell parents of prospective students that “a student who can square dance doesn’t have a learning disability”.
A correction plan has been submitted to the DESE for review. In it, the school offers parents whose children’s IEP’s are not being implemented properly a choice from the following menu:
1. Additional service hours will be offered this year through the hiring of an additional part-time
SPED teacher. The teacher will have a Masters Degree in Special Education.
2. A two-week summer program will be offered August 8-19 providing three hours of academic
services in ELA/Reading and Math with the provision of PT/OT support as needed.
3. Additional services will be made available during the 2011-2012 academic year.
Board minutes show that given their current financial state it will be hard, if not impossible, to implement that first option, and explain why they have failed to satisfy another significant requirement of the probation supplement.
On paper at least, the BESE had directed the school to hire a Director of Education (principal) by February 1, which they have failed to do. We’re told by the DESE that they tentatively plan to look at the status of this school again in March. Right now, though, they are too busy getting ready for Monday’s BESE meeting at which Commissioner Chester will recommend adding the supervision of 17 more charter schools to the Department’s workload.
Does getting our hands on Race to the Top money trump educational quality and justify corrupt decision making driven by gutless political pandering? At least one trustee of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School says an enthusiastic yes it does in his “Fact #5” about his school.