Meanwhile, at the new Comcast studio in Cromwell, while the BOE meeting was going on Tuesday, two Middletown mothers were guests on the cable access show "The Edge" hosted by Jonathan Pulino and guest co-hosted by Councilwoman Debra Kleckowski filling in for regular host William Wilson. Jane Majewski, mother of two children attending Middletown public schools, one with autism, and organizer of the online petition written about previously in the Eye, calling for the termination of the three administrators in charge of special education services for Middletown because of what she calls their negligence in failure to address the needs of her son by elimination of the DEAL program. The DEAL program was a program made up of special classes taught by teachers trained to handle children with various learning and behavioral disabilities that was housed at Lawrence Elementary to serve all Middletown elementary aged special needs students.
After hearing about her petition, local mother Wendy Penny contacted the Majewski family and the two women have decided to collaborate their efforts to demand changes within the BOE administration. Penny's child had been previously evaluated by another Connecticut school district, but do to the in-actions of specifically Ann Perzan, as Penny alleges, caused her son to be made to stay home for 40 days. Penny recounts endless PPT evaluations that she claims were of no value. "The goal of the PPT was to get him in school. Why have a PPT to discuss the goal of a PPT to get him back in school ?" said Penny.
Majewski stressed during her interview her belief that all children, able and "disabled" deserve a safe learning environment, and that she feels segregation of special needs students like her son when they are having emotional outbursts is the best answer for the safety of all students and staff; however, she feels that the improper use of seclusion rooms as was the case at Farm Hill Elementary, for a variety of reason in her eyes, two of which are the the lack of the seclusion rooms being properly designed to have features to prevent injury and their use by untrained staff. Majewski has been in contact with other parents that have had similar frustrations dealing with the BOE administration.
Penny praised the stellar efforts of Snow School Elementary Principal Jim Gaudreau, who she says "was extraordinarily helpful & caring. He is a person who goes above and beyond." Both Majewski and Penny agreed that they do not have issues with the teachers or principals, they in fact sympathized with their frustrations in dealing with lack of resources and adequete aides; the two mother's issues are with primarily the BOE administration.
Both also expressed sympathy for the other mainstream students who have to now be subject to outbursts by children with special needs, now that they have been integrated as a result of the cutting of programs that had been more substantial and better equipped in handling special education. Majewski has been in contact with other parents who are experiencing the same frustration with the BOE adminstration, however, she says are afraid to come forward and criticize the school system for fear or making the situation worse or alienating their children more within the community. This Eye reporter has spoken to two of such families who are planning to contact BOE elected officials to seek resolution of similar issues.
Councilwoman Kleckowski called the inaction of the BOE administration, which she emphasized is overseen by Superintendent Michael Frechette, "reprehensible" and like the mothers was hopeful and so far pleased with the efforts of the BOE elected members to correct matters. Councilwoman Kleckowski pledged to help the women appearing on the show however she could and any other parents resolve their issues with the BOE administration. Kleckoski invited the mothers back with updates on the progress and any other parents - supporting or against the petition to speak with her and consider coming on her & Bob Stefurak's show "The Diner," featured later in the month on cable access, to have an "open dialogue" in the hopes coming to consensus if possible on how issues can be addressed. During the taping of this episode viewers were allowed to call in live and comment, and some did.
Majewski and Penny both said they felt they followed the proper chain of command in trying to resolve the issues before contacting the media and starting a petition, however; both say their efforts had not resulted in action or resolution. Majewski and Penny, both have appeared before the elected BOE officials during public session, and both provided documentation of their prior attempts to contact the BOE administrators in question on numerous occasions. Each mother said they would now be directing letters to the BOE elect with more specific details in hopes that they will be able to press the administration into resolving the problems. Ideally, Majewski says she would like to see the DEAL program reinstated. The petition has gained 155 signatures so far. Jon Pulino provided the video of this episode of "The Edge" below as a courtesy to the Eye. Video is available in 4 parts here: http://youtu.be/IhW0CctjgWo