January 2012
December 22, 2011

NYSUT action defends role of psychologists in special ed

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United

Thanks to opposition voiced by NYSUT, educators and parents, the Regents backed off on at least one ill-advised special education mandate relief proposal.

The Regents agreed to maintain the school psychologist on the Committee on Special Education (CSE) meetings to determine a student's eligibility for special education services, rather than eliminate the psychologist's role, as proposed.

Regrettably, the Regents endorsed several other special education mandate relief proposals that would negatively impact the ability of families of students with disabilities to receive appropriate programs and services.

NYSUT will raise its concerns with the state Legislature, where most of the proposals require action. Among the proposals endorsed by the Regents:

  • Eliminating an additional parent of a student with a disability and school physician as CSE members;
  • Repealing the requirements for an initial evaluation; and
  • No longer allowing school psychologists to determine the need for individual psychological evaluations.

The changes come after state officials proposed a series of mandate relief measures for schools. Since then, psychologists, parents and educators have spoken out against the change. More than 200 people attended three public forums in June, and SED received more than 700 written comments.

Regent Kathleen Cashin questioned "how much savings would be realized ... compared to the trauma that could be caused the family?"

"We need to remember that these mandates were established in reaction to a specific concern," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira. "Now, the Regents are supporting their elimination, but they have not offered any indication of the impact on students with disabilities or any projected cost savings."