Thursday, June 7, 2012

D-Day at ARPS

 

This afternoon at 4:30 PM Superintendent Maria Geryk and her inside circle of high level (highly paid) administrators will retire to the superintendent's conference room for an important pow-wow with the Amherst Regional School Committee to secretly discuss in executive session the sudden resignation of Special Education Legal Counsel Fred Dupere and, presumably, decide on a replacement, presumably, Gini Tate.

Since the current 9 member Regional School Committee is now different by two easy going Amherst members, the previous (9/22/2010) 5-4 vote to fire Gini Tate as Special Education Counsel can easily be overturned.  And probably will be.  In spite of her recent failure.

Remember that special education case she was grandfathered on to continue litigating (at $220/hour) because according to Regional School Committee Chair Rick Hood, " Tate had already worked extensively on it during the FY11 school year prior to Dupere being appointed the new SE attorney. Probably this is the case you are referring to. 

Where Murphy Hesse Toomey Lehane (Tate's lawfirm) was already deeply involved in a case it was thought best (and less expensive) to keep MHTL on it."

Hmmm...since issuing that statement Gini Tate ran up over $40,000 in Special Education legal services on the case; and guess what? She lost! If Tate was such a great attorney how is it she gets beat by a pro se parent without a law degree? Goes to show how egregious the case was against the schools--and any good altruistic attorney would have counseled their client to that affect.

It's a simple rule really, one that should especially resonate in Amherst:  War is seldom the right answer.


91 comments:

Anonymous said...

If this were any other town in any other state, tax payers would be busting down that wood door with axes.

I think it shows just how far and wide the roots of Amherst's decades (?) old corruption culture, have grown.

Anonymous said...

A few things. Wasn't Tate's firm let go on special ed matters because so many SPED parents complained about her take-no-prisoners style? The district never used the free mediation services offered by the state either. How often do attorneys fire their clients? Especially in a tough economy. What was the real reason the firm doesn't want to work with the district? Tired of watching Tate getting paid more per hour? The attorneys not agreeing with the district's stance in cases or refusal to follow the law? Not being truthful? This issue has to be openly discussed by the school committee because it isn't a personnel matter. The law firm isn't an employee of the district. It's like a bus company hired by the district. Only details on individual SPED cases are private. So let's find out what is really going on.

Anonymous said...

"War is never the answer." Yea, we should give every sped parent everything they want for their kid without ever going to court over it. You think the SPED budget is high now? Just think how high it would be if we just gave every SPED kid everything their parent demanded for them!! You people are fools.

Anonymous said...

Without going into specifics or of course naming anyone involved~please enlighten your audience as to the basis of the case you speak of. Special Education has long been under the watchful eye of the community, what with confining children in closets and all, but this has sparked another fire in this ever growing group of "administrators." Why did Joanne Smith leave as the acting director of Special Education? Is the community aware that that department used be headed by Maria? Department jumping~sort of like bar hoping, but they don't get drunk, they get rich!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of administrators...could someone please direct me to where I might find Ms. Susan Kennedy Marx's new title? I can't seem to find her in the directory on the ARPS Central Office website. It was my understanding that she was taken from her position at Fort River (Ms. Karen Lowe was hired as a replacement) to do some very important social justice work at the district. Is she still on payroll? If so, why isn't her position listed. Signed - Anonymous, curious, and wondering

Anonymous said...

didn't the last school committee, (the one with catherine sanderson and steve rivkin on it,) when they were searching (i believe sanderson was on the search committee) for a law firm, narrow it down to five? and of those five, didn't they say that only two were viable candidates: the the firm who employs the guy who just walked away, and tate's firm? so one of the only two viable choices according to the LAST school committee (the one with sanderson on it,) quit. so shouldn't we just go with the only other firm the last school committee, (the one sanderson was on,) after a lengthy search, said was viable? i think it was sanderson who said they were the only two viable candidates they were able to come up with. and one quit. so let's go with the other.

Anonymous said...

You're just playing right into their hands with posts like this Larry, it just really reinforces the perception people have of you as petty and one-sided. Your focus is so narrow, clearly you have some sort of personal vendetta. along with, it looks like, one or two other anons, who we can't even confirm live in Amherst.

Maybe you are at war, Larry, everyone else is at work, doing their jobs.

Anonymous said...

The SPED Parents website has posted a statement about the attorney's resignation. In their statement, they indicate that that attorney was easily accessible by cell phone and email. What??? Was the attorney representing the schools working in cahoots with the parents who bring lawsuits against the district? Isn't that a conflict of interest? Isn't anyone worried here?

Anonymous said...

here's a link to the letter that the SEPAC board just sent to the Regional School Committee about Duprere's resignation.


http://arpssepac.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/sepac-on-resignation-of-dupere-6_2012.pdf

Anonymous said...

Susan Kennedy Marx is retiring in 2.5 weeks. I think the administration has more important things to do than update the web page to show Susan, don't you?

Anonymous said...

I am VERY worried.

Anonymous said...

you can't handle the truth!

Anonymous said...

oh great, angry aronson and ornery onanibaku again.

Anonymous said...

i hope the sc hires the tate firm again, for the sole reason that it will be one more "kiss my ass" to catherine sanderson.

Anonymous said...

and to you too, larry.

get a job, will ya? you're anger will dissipate, i promise.

Anonymous said...

yeah, what does that mean when a few of the parents of kids with iep's say: he was easy to reach by cell and email?

who the hell was he working for?

Anonymous said...

Well, we can all attend the SC meeting this eve, and perhaps some of our answers will be answered.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget - If the likes of Michael Aronson and Pat Ononbaku are happy that means the district's SPED budget is probably going up. Is that really what the town wants?

Larry, I think you need some therapy to deal with your anger issues.

LarryK said...

CAN:
I think you need testosterone therapy to deal with your lack of balls.

Anonymous said...

If the district's lawyer was so easy to reach by cell phone and email by the parents it sounds like perhaps there was a bit of unethical behavior going on. Perhaps the MA Bar Association should be apprised of this POSSIBLY unethical behavior.

I don't like the sound of this at all. The SEPAC website also says that Mr. Dupere was an ally to the parents. He was supposed to be in a position of being an advocate for the District in adversarial proceedings with the district on one side and the parents on the other. How could he be an ally for one side while at the same time be an advocate for the other side. Again, sounds pretty fishy to me and I hope someone contacts the MA Bar.

Anonymous said...

i guess we're getting down to the brass tacks here, aren't we.

i rescind my comment about how larry should get a job and his anger will dissipate...after all, Roach Patrol has a pretty decent job, and she still comes off as pretty angry.

Anonymous said...

does anyone know how many families with children in the amherst public schools have children with iep's?

i wonder who the few people who signed this letter actually represent.

Anonymous said...

larry's always talking about people's balls.

the way he goes uber with support for our men and women in uniform sorta reminds me of the guys who drive the super sporty, expensive little cars: they are compensating for something.

Anonymous said...

I think its important who first declared war - it was Catherine Sanderson and Steve Rivkin who declared war on Maria Geryk. And their threat involved getting rid of Gini Tate. Good job Catherine and Steve! You won the first skirmish but I think you lost the war.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to the SEPAC Board letter. I noticed on the website there announcement about annual elections for their board. Does anyone know if the election took place and the results? A friend who is a SE parent in Amherst indicated that he has not received any ballot or means for voting the board except for being invited to the meeting. Wondering what the legal requirements are for voting a representative board such as SEPAC? Is a board elected by whomever shows up or do ballots to all applicable families have to go out? Any info on this?

S*it Patrol said...

Amherst farmers used to call that smell fertilizer.


Now, they call it corruption.

Anonymous said...

anon 2:56:

don't worry... aronson's and onanibaku's kids will grow up and leave, and then they will have to displace their anger and orneriness elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

boy, you're really stickin' it to the man with this post, huh larry?

Roach Patrol said...

"i rescind my comment about how larry should get a job and his anger will dissipate...after all, Roach Patrol has a pretty decent job, and she still comes off as pretty angry."


We have three names in mind. When they are gone from the schools, this war ends.

RP

Anonymous said...

i am a parent of two children who receive special education services, and another who formerly received special ed services.

This letter/These people who wrote this letter on behalf of ALL of us (anyone who has a child who receives special ed services is a member of SEPAC) DOES NOT/DO NOT represent me! It should have been signed by these people as PARENTS not as SEPAC Board! I am going to make damn sure they know it, too!

"SEPAC" has more and more become a group for the angry parents with gripes (maybe legitimate ones) as opposed to a board that represents the hundreds and hundreds of us out here who are quite content with the services they are receiving.

Anonymous said...

ok, super, roach patrol. so now tell us exactly who you and larry are at war with/have you declared war against?

'cause this roach has survived a nuclear war, m*****f*****. bring it on.

you're gonna be at war until your old and reddish-gray.

Anonymous said...

That letter references close friends with the Superintendent and senior administrative staff. Again, I must ask, what evidence is there of this? How do you know? And, it would be a first for the attorney hired by any school system to dictate the level of litigation; any attorney is at the whim of their employer and not the other way around. How can any attorney be involved in creating a crisis in a school district? These words sound like parents who have lost to this attorney and are retailating for fear of coming up against her again.

Roach Patrol said...

"you're gonna be at war until your old and reddish-gray."


I really don't think so.


Once the puppet master is gone, the whole house of cards will come crashing down.


She knows who she is, she knows who I am and she knows why this is happening.

RP

Anonymous said...

you are a delusional CAN, roach patrol.

and i know who you are, too.

Anonymous said...

Mention the schools.......and all hell breaks loose.

Anonymous said...

TO: "Anonymous said...
i am a parent of two children who receive special education services, and another who formerly received special ed services.

This letter/These people who wrote this letter on behalf of ALL of us (anyone who has a child who receives special ed services is a member of SEPAC) DOES NOT/DO NOT represent me! It should have been signed by these people as PARENTS not as SEPAC Board! I am going to make damn sure they know it, too!"

Thanks for sharing this. It would be great if you or someone could surface how these individuals were voted, how many people voted, and why they think they represent all of us? I never voted for any of them and I just don't think it is fair to tell the public they are representing us when they don't. It is about time someone started asking these questions. Thank you again!

LarryK said...

At least they signed their names.

Anonymous said...

anon 5:59...

that is something i can easily do. i'm on it.

now i get what larry was talking about when he told oreilly, "uh, yeah, umh, i hate to use nixon's old thing, uh, you know, the silent majority, but umh, yeah, a lot of people have told me things that they don't want to, like, uh, say publicly, like they ask me not to publish it, because, yeah, you know, retaliation and stuff."

LarryK said...

Capitalize much?

Anonymous said...

I think the SPED parents who are not happy with the all negative all angry all the time SEPAC leadership should start their own SEPAC.

Anonymous said...

$250K for graham, $40K for tate to lose...what other money is being wasted?

LarryK said...

$200K paid out over the past five years in settlement agreements with 13 (former) employees.

Anonymous said...

http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2011/04/24/state_payouts_sealed_with_a_promise_of_silence/?page=1


"While confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses are commonly used by private companies, they are much more controversial in the public sector. The Massachusetts attorney general’s office has advised state agencies that they are “prohibited’’ from using confidentiality clauses, ex cept in special circumstances."


Does the school's HR department head or the Superintendent want to come clean about her/the administration's recent gagging "activities" (of an entire department) here, on this blog, or does she want to come clean with the AG's office?


Hmmm?



p.s. We really love Roach Patrol.

Anonymous said...

Start their own SEPAC? SEPAC isn't a private club. If you have children in the public schools who receive special education services, you are a member of SEPAC. That's the case in every town in the Commonwealth.

You really don't know what you're talking about. It IS OUR SEPAC.

Anonymous said...

You know, Larry, If you keep ignoring the reasonable responses and questions to your arguments, and don't investigate the issues further, it doesn't make the truth go away.

Anonymous said...

Tate's firm was one of two firms that the search committee for a new law firm (which included Catherine Sanderson) said were the only viable firms out of the five they narrowed their search down to. One of them quit. Doesn't that leave Tate's firm?

Anonymous said...

If the current SEPAC leadership doesn't represent your interests than vote them out. There should be enough parents to do that. Take back your SEPAC.

Anonymous said...

I guess we'll have to.

There haven't really been any specific breaches of our trust until now (that I know of anyway.)

The vast majority of us have no problems with the services our kids receive; A small minority have dedicated their lives to trying to vent the anger and frustration that they possess, and they are the "usual suspects".

Does anyone know when the elections take place? Will it be at the beginning of next school year?

Anonymous said...

p.s. We really love Roach Patrol.

Who is "we"? Are you one of her students or something?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure they're shakin' in their boots, anon.

So, I wonder, who do the detractors here wish to see the school committee hire as the school's attorney? As has been stated above: a search committee was formed by the "old" sc, which included Catherine Sanderson; they narrowed their field down to five; of those five, they deemed two to be the only viable candidates; one was the guy who just quit mid-way, the other was Tate's firm.

So who do you think they should hire?

LarryK said...

And by choosing Dupere they essentially fired Tate.

Anonymous said...

This is from Michael Aronson and it is my first comment on this blog.

It is a shame that anonymous bloggers feel the need for personal attacks. Larry, I encourage you to remove anonymous attacks that are unsubstantiated. If those people had the courage to declare who they were, I am fine with unsubstantiated criticism. If they had something of substance to add - even an angry anonymous blog would be ok with me. But simple anonymous trashing makes no sense. Please take a stand against cyber bullying. It serves no one.

Those of you hiding in the shadows should consider the impact of your attacks. You are damaging our community.

In terms of the issue at hand let us be clear:

1) A publicly elected body in open session removed Atty Tate from the SPED portfolio but retained her position as General Counsel.

2) The replacement, Atty Dupere worked for Amherst on a contract basis ($3000/mo regardless of workload)He resigned two days ago. We do not know what was represented to Mr. Dupere in contract negotiations. It could be that Administrators erred in their estimates of SPED legal expenditures. As you note from Larry's blog, Dupere's work cost $3000 per month - or for a three month SPED hearing a maximum of $9000. Ms. Tate's losing effort cost over $40,000. My math suggests Dupere served Amherst better.

(continued below)

Anonymous said...

Michael Aronson continued ---

3) Both Attys lost pro se cases - cases in which parents but represented themselves at the DESE without legal counsel. In one of those cases the District was found so far out of compliance with Commonwealth and Federal regulations that DESE is requiring the Amherst to provide compensatory services.

4) The indication is that the ARPS district was negligent in both cases - and likely many more. This has nothing to do with angry parents or administrators. It has to do with failure in the SPED department (more about that below).

5) At the same time as all of this, as Larry pointed out, the SC and Administration has violated state Open Meeting laws and been cited for such violations - all under the watchful eye of Amherst's General Counsel.

6) The General Counsel for the District has been identified as the all but official replacement for Dupere despite her public rebuke by the SC. Her selection has taken place hidden from public view. In my opinion there is a problem in the District if you have a General Counsel and a SPED counsel in the same office.

7) For those of you who like to comment about SPED costs but know nothing of the system I offer the following insight. Currently in the HS there are 5 levels of management and administration for the SPED department. This is the system that Superintendent Geryk created and led over the past decade.

The ARPS SPED ziggurat has Ms. Geryk - chief architect and director - at the top, Ms. Smith (Friend of Geryk) as layer number two as Student Services Administrator. Layer number three consists of Senior Administrators White & Slovin; another two layers in the mix are Ms. Chamberlain and Mr. Jackson who are involved in building level SPED decisions. Under layer three (or four if we count carefully), we have Rick Howes, "Special Education Department Head" for Amherst Regional HS; The next layer consists of "ETLs" - Educational Team Leaders - who report to Mr. Howes (one would presume); Add into this mix secretaries for the senior levels (layers one, two and three) and you have your set up. Note that the top three or four layers of managment are all earning six figures or close to it... plus benefits... plus retirement...

The next question to ask is how many qualified teachers are working with those children who need more extensive services? The answer is a small fraction of the administrators.

So for all you anonymous embittered critics of Special Education in Amherst, I recommend learning the facts: the legal problems AND COSTS are far more about mismanagement, legal malfeasance, and failure to follow the law than about children that need additional resources to learn.

What you will find, if you have any intellectual curiosity whatsoever, is that the management structures in place throughout the system that are being fed by self serving administrators and their counsel, are fat, ineffective, and failing all our children.

Thank you for taking the time to read my opinion. I welcome your reasoned criticism.

Anonymous said...

Michael, did you write that letter on behalf of all of us who are members of SEPAC? You realize that there are hundreds of us, right? That letter in no way represents how I feel, and many, many parents have spoken to me and have expressed the same sentiment. Don't you think you should have signed that letter as a parent, rather than as a representative of hundreds of parents with whom you have not discussed the issues you have? This came out of nowhere as far as I'm concerned.

Also, what are you talking about when you say the selection of Tate occurred hidden from public view?

I am definitely not alone when I say I can't wait for you to be gone. You are using your "elected" position on SEPAC to carry out personal vendettas, and you do not represent the vast majority of us out here... In fact, buddy, you are only representing yourself, and not very well, either. Take a clue from your dismal SC election numbers.

Anonymous said...

Aronson complaining about bullying is nothing less than the pot calling the kettle black.

Anonymous said...

Michael, how often were you in contact with the school's hired counsel from the Dupree firm?? Did he actually consult with you, as you stated he did in your letter??

Anonymous said...

And by choosing Dupere they essentially fired Tate.

Again... who else COULD they have hired today?

What other options, but to hire the only other viable firm according to Catherine Sanderson after a thorough search, were available?

LarryK said...

Dupere resigned suddenly--but not effective until June 30.

And I'm sure he's a professional and would have stayed over an extra month if asked while the committee did a search.

Besides it's summer, not many cases in the pipeline I would imagine.

Anonymous said...

Yes I know it is your SEPAC!! But it souinds like YOUR SEPAC has been taken over by a cabal of angry, rude parents. If that is the case, then the 100s of parents who do not agree with the cabal need to start going to the SEPAC meetings, no matter how distasteful, and demand the return of their SEPAC. If that can't be done, then I think the 100s of parents should meet, say "their" SEPAC has been hijacked and that they do not consider it to be the official SEPAC and claim that their group is the official SEPAC. Let the SPED department know that in their opinion the Special Ed Parent council has been hijacked by a very small group of disgruntled parents who don't speak for the vast majority of SPED parents. Let them know that they have no faith in that group and that they want to form their own alternative "official" SEPAC, one that represents the vast majority of Sped parents. Let the SPED department know that they should, from that day forward, see the new SEPAC as the official one that represents the parents and SPED students in the district. Let the hijacked SEPAC wallow in their own misery. the new "official" SEPAC can begin again to do the work SEPAC is supposed to be doing.
Pat Ononobaku and Michael Aronson need to be cut off at the knees. They are doing nothing to help the 100s of SPED students in Amherst. They, instead, hurt them in many ways. I urge the SPED parents in Amherst to take back their SEPAC!! It can be done. It's been done in the past and it can be done again!!!

LarryK said...

But they may have to identify themselves before voting.

Anonymous said...

Yup, they will have to identify themselves. I am sure that will not be a problem.

Anonymous said...

Again, Larry, you're just ignoring the truth an the facts.

We JUST did a search less than two years ago, Larry. Catherine Sanderson, from her own mouth, said the Dupree firm and Tate's firm were the ONLY TWO VIABLE FIRMS who could do the job for Amherst. Do you think that a crop of new firms has appeared out of nowhere in the Commonwealth over the last two years? Or did Sanderson do a less than thorough job? Which is it?

Like Larry will get involved in the actual discussion...

Anonymous said...

The problem around "taking back the SEPAC" is a common one: the parents who have "hijacked" our SEPAC have a lot of extra time on their hands, and a lot of negative energy motivating them, while most of us out here are quite busy with "life". The "hundreds of us" have to weigh whether it's worth disrupting our own and our families lives in order to battle a small group who typically fail in their endeavors anyway, and who by virtue of the fact that their children are growing up, must leave eventually as well, and find a new place to vent their anger.

It's sort of like how we could all start our own blog...

Anonymous said...

Thank you Michael Aronson,
At least someone can explain why we need legal council in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Ha! 8:54am...

you are naive... the hiring of the counsel we are debating is the legal counsel FOR THE SCHOOLS and the TAXPAYERS OF AMHERST, to protect our financial interests against people like Aronson! Not a counsel for the one, sometimes two parents per year that sue the district!

And once again, Aronson comes off as incredibly arrogant whenever he speaks or writes.

Imagine if these people could channel their time and energies into some POSITIVE endeavor on behalf of the town and the schools...

Anonymous said...

From a reliable source who got this from another reliable source...

Rick Hood last night at the SC meeting, when someone brought up the 5-4 vote two years ago (5 for the Dupree firm, 4 for the Tate firm)...

"I was one of the 5 that voted for the Dupree firm, and I have regretted that decision ever since."

Anonymous said...

This was not a definition of why legal council is needed. It is an arguement to pursuade the readers of a position. Unfortunately, the facts are not accurate and misleading and one sided.

Isn't is apparent the blogger has his own agenda and that it is not about the best interests of SPED in Amherst? It is about his ferverent hate of the administration which he makes public all the time.

I still don't understand what the references to "personal or close friend" mean. What is this based upon? It is purposefully irrelevant and detracts from the real issues at hand.

If there is work to be done in SPED to improve things, then that should be the focus.

Larry - posting anonymously is the only way to avoid personal attack - let's debate issues and not people.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Aronson, will you please inform us as to when the next "election" for seats on the SEPAC board will be?

Anonymous said...

What the hell?? I just went to the SEPAC website, and apparently, they had their "election" about one week ago. How the hell were the parents who can't make it to their meetings supposed to vote? Why aren't we kept informed? Do we have to watch the website daily to find thesae things out??

LarryK said...

Anon 9:46 AM
"From a reliable source who this from a reliable source..."

I like that. Good example of why executive session should not be treated lightly.

parent of a child with an iep said...

And also, it says at the top of THEIR website...

"attorney Dupere, a respectful ally to parents of children within the special education program at ARPS...

WHAT?? Wasn't he the attorney for the SCHOOLS?? What the hell is going on here?? Why does it appear that some parents got to utilize the services of an attorney that THE TAXPAYERS OF AMHERST paid for, while the rest of us would have to hire our own attorneys?? Talk about an ethical breach!

Not to mention that they are using the website to take digs at Atty Tate.

You folks DO NOT represent me!!!

Someone, PLEASE... how many parents were at the meeting where candidates for the SEPAC board were nominated/elected?

Anonymous said...

from a reliable source...

this comment was made during the open meeting session, that you or anyone else could have attended, the minutes must be available somewhere. The meeting was announced 48 hours prior.

get your facts straight before you make your "reports".

Anonymous said...

It wasn't an executive session.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that no one addresses the substance of Aronson's opinion.

Apparently he is not well liked. But in my view, there is something to be said for his willingness to step up and share what is true for him.

Not sure where he is expressing himself hatefully though. Am I missing something here?

Anonymous said...

No, you're not missing anything.

This is what they always do; attack the style rather than address the substance.

Anonymous said...

IN RESPONSE TO ARONSON:
1) A publicly elected body in open session removed Atty Tate from the SPED portfolio but retained her position as General Counsel. TRUE

2) The replacement, Atty Dupere worked for Amherst on a contract basis ($3000/mo regardless of workload)He resigned two days ago. We do not know what was represented to Mr. Dupere in contract negotiations. It could be that Administrators erred in their estimates of SPED legal expenditures. As you note from Larry's blog, Dupere's work cost $3000 per month - or for a three month SPED hearing a maximum of $9000. Ms. Tate's losing effort cost over $40,000. My math suggests Dupere served Amherst better. ASK TO SEE THE CONTRACT WITH DUPERE.

3) Both Attys lost pro se cases - cases in which parents but represented themselves at the DESE without legal counsel. In one of those cases the District was found so far out of compliance with Commonwealth and Federal regulations that DESE is requiring the Amherst to provide compensatory services. HOW MUCH DID IT COST THE DISTRICT / TOWN / TAX PAYERS FOR EACH CASE? HOW DO YOU HAVE THE FACTS OF THE CASE? I THOUGHT THEY WERE CONFIDENTIAL?

Anonymous said...

4) The indication is that the ARPS district was negligent in both cases - and likely many more. This has nothing to do with angry parents or administrators. It has to do with failure in the SPED department (more about that below). HOW DO YOU HAVE THESE FACTS? CAN YOU PROVE WHAT YOU SAY?


6) The General Counsel for the District has been identified as the all but official replacement for Dupere despite her public rebuke by the SC. Her selection has taken place hidden from public view. In my opinion there is a problem in the District if you have a General Counsel and a SPED counsel in the same office. THERE IS A DIRECT AND SUBSTANTIVE IMPACT OF HAVING TWO DIFFERENT ATTORNEYS WHEN CASES CROSS DOMAINS. PAYING TWO ATTORNEYS TO WEIGH IN ON THE SAME ISSUE IS NOT COST EFFECTIVE AT ALL.

7) For those of you who like to comment about SPED costs but know nothing of the system I offer the following insight. Currently in the HS there are 5 levels of management and administration for the SPED department. This is the system that Superintendent Geryk created and led over the past decade.

The ARPS SPED ziggurat has Ms. Geryk - chief architect and director - at the top, Ms. Smith (Friend of Geryk) as layer number two as Student Services Administrator. Layer number three consists of Senior Administrators White & Slovin; another two layers in the mix are Ms. Chamberlain and Mr. Jackson who are involved in building level SPED decisions. Under layer three (or four if we count carefully), we have Rick Howes, "Special Education Department Head" for Amherst Regional HS; The next layer consists of "ETLs" - Educational Team Leaders - who report to Mr. Howes (one would presume); Add into this mix secretaries for the senior levels (layers one, two and three) and you have your set up. Note that the top three or four layers of managment are all earning six figures or close to it... plus benefits... plus retirement... PERSONAL ATTACKS SAY VERY LITTLE. AND, A LIST OF STAFF DOES NOT REFLECT WHO DOES WHAT, HOW MUCH OR WHEN. THIS IS AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION.

The next question to ask is how many qualified teachers are working with those children who need more extensive services? The answer is a small fraction of the administrators. HOW ARE THESE TWO STATEMENTS CONNECTED?

So for all you anonymous embittered critics of Special Education in Amherst, I recommend learning the facts: the legal problems AND COSTS are far more about mismanagement, legal malfeasance, and failure to follow the law than about children that need additional resources to learn. WHAT ARE YOUR QUALIFICATIONS TO MAKE THIS ASSESSMENT? DO YOU HAVE A LAW DEGREE? A SPECIAL EDUCATION DEGREE? HAVE YOU WORKED IN SCHOOLS? OUR SCHOOLS?

What you will find, if you have any intellectual curiosity whatsoever, is that the management structures in place throughout the system that are being fed by self serving administrators and their counsel, are fat, ineffective, and failing all our children. INTERESTING PERSONAL ATTACKS AGAIN. POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK?

LarryK said...

But again I must point out HE SIGNS HIS NAME!

Anonymous said...

Still the question, why did Dupre fire the district?

Anonymous said...

That does NOT MAKE HIM LESS OF AN UMPLEASANT PERSON. It also does not make his comments any more right on.

Anonymous said...

I also find it interesting that you print Aronson's accusations of cyber bullying but when someone calls him a bully you don't print it. Ask my why I am not surprised at the double standard.

LarryK said...

Because "someone" does it under the cloak of anonymity.

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistken, Dupere did not fire the district. He resigned because he had too much work and could not handle the district's work.

Anonymous said...

This man:

"I'm from the South, where we salute the flag and say, 'Thank you, ma'am' and 'No, sir,'" he said. Rodriguez said he is not accustomed to "some of the stuff that seems to be cultural" in Amherst, citing the tolerance of the annual marijuana festival on the town common.

"I'm all for law and order and making sure we salute the flag," Rodriguez said."


Said this about ARPS:

"A pervasive sense of complacency fueled by a culture of nepotism and cronyism."


What else do you need to know?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:13 / 14

Your comments are cogent and eloquent. Please allow my kind response.

3) Please make yourself familiar with BSEA, the agency who has issued judgements against the School District. The bar is very high to get a judgment against a school district. Such decisions are quite rare. It is almost unheard of for two such decisions to occur within a few weeks of each other from the same system about disparate issues. Infer what you please about my motives, these BSEA decisions speak for themselves.

All judgments are published on the BSEA website. The language from the hearing officer is clear. When you look at the decisions you can infer the costs to the district. The problem is the cost to families who are forced to fight for their rights over years - rights codified in Federal and Commonwealth law - that according to the Hearing officer in these cases are ignored by Amherst.

4) See 3) above.

6) I believe that you missed the point here.. I am certainly not suggesting hiring two attorneys to look at the same issues. I think an Attorney like Tate should not be anywhere near cases that deal with children. My sense from personal experience is that she simply dislikes children with special needs. and their families. I think she would be a great defense lawyer for white collar criminals.

Last point - qualifications: I am a taxpayer in Amherst that is paying attention. It is possible that you and I simply have different standards. For example, I have the confidence to place my name at the end of this reply, and you do not.

When officials in my town get notices from the State Atty General about violations of law and are subject to sanctions from hearing officers at the BSEA, I pay attention.

I really do wish you well - and celebrate our difference of opinion. Thank you for your observations.

Michael Aronson

Michael Aronson

Anonymous said...

anon 4:01pm...

We needed to know where the hell he was when he was supposed to be at work.

Anonymous said...

When I was in high school, I quit one of my-- I mean, I fired one of my employers.

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Aronson has touched on a salient point: many legal expenses could have been saved had the special needs student been provided with minimal educational assistance. It is frustrated parents who want the best for their children who sue.

Many years ago, my friend's son needed to use a keyboard, rather than a pencil. SPED would not provide it. I think this type of scenario is often repeated and the parent is not heard -- leading to more frustration to the point of litigation.

Since we don't seem to learn from our history (the parental legal victories), perhaps this is a case of gross incompetence rather than corruption.

Just some observations from a CAN who is very glad her chilren are out of this system.

a parent with two sped students said...

I have some info on the election that took place for the SEPAC Board.

The Meeting to nominate and vote for the board was last week. There were six parents there. These six parents nominated each other, then voted. Those six parents now make up the SEPAC Board.

There was no outreach to parents: if you couldn't make it to the meeting, tough, no means to cast a vote. No emails, letters, etc were sent to make parents aware. No ballots were sent out to parents.

So, now these six people, who have historically been parents with issues with the administration and the Special Ed department, represent the parents of the approximately 600 students--20% of our student population--who receive special education services.

Anonymous said...

They are the 1%!

Anonymous said...

fyi, both my spouse and I got emails about the SEPAC meeting. Neither chose to attend. I guess all but 6 other parents did likewise. Since we opted not to participate, I'm not sure that we have the right to complain about those who did...