Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Former school trustee seeks to clear up misunderstanding on board’s role in special ed process

To the editor:

I’m writing to bring some clarity to what I think is a misunderstanding around 504s and individual education plans (IEPs) in our school district. I feel qualified to do so because I spent three years on the Pelham Board of Education and am now a trustee for Southern Westchester BOCES. Students with special needs who require services from the Pelham schools, or any school district, go through a defined process to determine what supports would be most effective for them. You can read about the process in Pelham here. Once this process is complete, the recommendation moves to the board of education.

In order to trigger the district to initiate the services and accommodations, the board of education must “vote” on them. The reason for this is not to approve the services but merely to acknowledge the expenditure of resources. It is entirely a procedural element of a standard board meeting. As a board member, I would receive a document as part of a board meeting agenda which listed the students by number and the detail of the actual services approved, frequency and duration of those services. I would have no basis on which to vote no because I had no knowledge of who the students were, nor their evaluated needs. Also, I had no expertise in this area, even if I had that information. In my three years on the Pelham Board of Education, no one ever voted no.

I have heard there are many in the community who now wrongly understand that the board of education plays a greater role in their students’ services. This is not true. While the school board technically “votes,” it has no involvement besides moving the process forward. Trustees do not see students’ records, IEPs, 504s or any other personally identifying information. They do not comment on the appropriateness of the services.  There are many ways that our district and our board of education supports special education, but this is simply not one of them.

Eileen Miller

232 Eastland Ave.

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  • M

    Melissa LabonteMay 13, 2024 at 1:22 pm

    This is such an important clarification – thank you for making it, Eileen. I would hate to think that anyone would misrepresent their role in or influence over this process – the families involved put their trust in it to ensure the best learning outcomes for their kids.