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Friday, January 24, 2014

State: Bridgeport ‘Systemically Violated’ Special Ed Laws

By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

State investigators have concluded that Bridgeport, the state’s largest public school system, “systemically violated” state laws created to ensure students with special education needs are promptly identified and provided services.

“It is concluded that, over the last year, the Bridgeport Public Schools systemically violated its Child Find mandate,” Mary Jean Schierberl, with the state Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education, wrote the district’s special education director this month.

“It is therefore concluded the District has no policies in place to monitor students’ behavior and performance to ensure all students with disabilities are located and identified. The District does not have an effective screening mechanism or policy in place to ensure that all students who need or are suspected to need special education and related services are identified, and evaluated.”

These findings are the result of a group of Bridgeport parents’ filing a complaint with the state alleging that the district failed their six children for years as the parents struggled to get them evaluated for special education services. And once identified as needing special services, the students faced delays, parents complained.

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