Tuesday, November 18, 2008

For Dr. O’Malley, It’s Nothing Personal, Just Business

A crowded audience at a BOE meeting is often a sign of trouble and last night was no exception. Following an excellent presentation about our students’ scores on standardized exams, President Demarest opened the floor to public comment. On the agenda (page 16) was the creation of Director of Special Services and the subsequent elimination of Helen Rappaport’s position, Supervisor of Special Services, and her resulting demotion. Over half the audience consisted of her colleagues, supporters, and advocates and they were bucking for a fight.

First at the podium was a school psychologist who had served Matawan-Aberdeen for 30 years, 23 of them under Ms. Rappaport. She spoke angrily of how a woman who had served the district with such dedication and competence shouldn’t be treated this way.

Next was Ms. Rappaport’s attorney. (Yes, she intends to litigate and possibly sue the district. So much for putting children first.) The attorney brought with him Ms. Rappaport’s 23 years of sterling performance reviews and insisted there was no basis whatsoever for demoting her.

(Note: Reduction in Force means the elimination of Ms. Rappaport’s position but, because she has tenure, she is entitled to assume another school psychologist’s position following his scheduled resignation. Ms. Rappaport lacks the credentials to be a director. As Supervisor of Special Services, she was the third-highest paid person in the district. The demotion will likely cost her $15,000-$20,000 a year. She’ll also need another 3-4 years to lift her pension benefits back to current levels unless she walks away now.)

Next came a man, possibly deranged, claiming to be an education lawyer who was representing two teachers, neither present, who were considering suing the district. He claimed that Dr. O’Malley was a power hungry megalomaniac and a “misogynist” hell-bent on persecuting the wholesome, yet vulnerable, ladies that work in our schools. After ranting and raving for about 10 minutes, BOE President Demarest finally said his three minutes were up and asked if any other audience members wished to speak. Susan Quinn, the former superintendent’s wife, stepped forward and, after being recognized, asked to yield her time to the crazy guy. She wanted more.

The next speaker was a teacher who lives in our district and asked “as a taxpayer,” whether this move was worth the cost of impending litigation. The threat was hardly veiled – “Mess with us and we’ll sue the pants off you.”

But then the tide began to turn. First was the special education instructor who spoke of a “broken” system where staff members advised special-needs families under cloak of secrecy for fear of retribution. Then came the parents who shared their heart wrenching stories of battling the bureaucracy at great personal expense and suffering to get their children the help they needed and to which they were legally entitled. How they were doubly cursed for not only bearing their own legal fees but also supporting the opposing attorney through their taxes.

And yes, I spoke as well. I first thanked the Directors of Accountability for their presentation on the student scores and then launched into a vigorous defense of Dr. O’Malley. I didn’t understand the differences between supervisor and director, nor did I know Ms. Rappaport’s qualifications or lack thereof, but I, too, had heard the unending stories of families with special needs children battling the school system to get the help they so desperately needed and surely deserved. If Dr. O’Malley said this was the change we needed then I would defer to his judgment. And shame on anyone who suggests that Dr. O’Malley does not have the best interests of our community at heart.

Finally, the board spoke. Ms. Rappaport had waived her right to confidentiality so they were going to discuss her position in public. Board Member Zavorskas accused Dr. O’Malley of eliminating the position on personal grounds but she stood alone.

All the other board members, one after another, said Ms. Rappaport was not the issue. Rather, Dr. O’Malley had argued that he needed to change the structure of the special education department in order to implement needed changes. Unfortunately, Ms. Rappaport’s lack of credentials barred her from the director’s position. Dr. Gambino even cited the New Jersey Licensing Code that restricts supervisors to oversight of “instructional personnel”. Since child study teams and school psychologists aren’t “instructional personnel”, supervisors are precluded from managing them, hence the need for changing the position to a “director”.

In the end, to my happy surprise, the board voted 8-1 in favor of Dr. O’Malley. In that vote, the board had signaled its intent to support our superintendent as long as he continues to move our school district in the right direction.

There were other tidbits at the meeting which I’ll discuss at a later time. Suffice to say that I believe we are witnessing a turning point for the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District. Everywhere I look, I see change. Perhaps too small, too modest, or too slow, but change all the same. Change for the better. We have the first glimmers of hope on the horizon.
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66 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do think that attorney to come out for free, prepared a 10 page statement and bashed the board members and the new Superintendent? I do not know too many attorneys who will work on a Monday night for 4 hrs and not get paid. Maybe he was just doing some pro-bono work with the children of the town in mind.

Anonymous said...

If he were working with the children of the community in mind, he would have been up at the podium, doing a little dance that Rappaport is on her way out.

Ask any parent of a special needs child in this district -- ANY parent, and I'm willing to bet money that they did their own dance of joy at the news that she's gone.

How many of her colleagues were there because of union pressure or fear that if she were not taken out of the position she would retaliate against them for not showing up?

How many of those performance reviews that got waved around were from Bruce Quinn? Who's wife was directly employed under Ms. Rappaport for many years? How could he not give a positive review on someone who would be giving his wife her own performance review?

I for one cringe at the mere thought of Rappaport taking the now empty job at the middle school. Give her access to the children who's parents stood up and talked against her at this meeting?

She takes that job, and I for one will be looking for a private school or out of district placement - I know a lot of other parents who feel the same.

It would not be the first time this woman chose to retaliate against a family in the district, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

I have first hand knowledge of Ms. Rappaport's disregard for the wellfare of the districts special needs children. She did everything in her power to deny and delay services to the children with special needs in Matawan & Aberdeen. These decisions on her part may have been to save the district money by hoping that the families would just give up on trying to get help. When in fact has caused problems that will take years and large amounts of taxpayer money for the children and their families that were effected to recover from. Some of these children have been sent far out of district, or have been forced to stay at home for months because the special services would not place the student in an appropriate program.
Families with special needs children face stress, difficulties & battles every day in their daily life. The last thing these families needed was to have to fight the school district special services so hard for every service their child needs and is entitled to by law.

I applaud Dr O'malley's decision to remove her position. I know that there are families that were forced to open lawsuits against the district so that their children will get appropriate services. I feel that regardless of Ms. Rappaport's tenure she should be held accountable to the children & families that she has made life so difficult for. Maybe the taxpayers should hold her accountable for all the money the school district will now have to pay in order to fix all of the problems she has created.

Anonymous said...

I attended the meeting and offered public comment once I saw the teacher turnout and their support for the attorney who attacked Dr. O'Malley's integrity. How dare the teachers clap and support such a classless excuse for a lawyer. The teachers offered no support for the parents who stood up for their children yet it is the interests of the children that is at stake here. It is obvious that they are more concerned with their own interests, ie. tenured job security and benefits for life, which is why they showed up in the first place. The incestuous relationships within this school district are being exposed and the time for change has come. I hope that the educators within this district start to look beyond themselves and recognize that Dr. O'Malleys initiatives can benefit them, as well as the children, should he succeed in making the changes that we need.

Anonymous said...

A brillant move by Dr.O'Malley and I applaud his courage and conviction in making this very difficult, but necessary change in the Special Services area. It is time for Helen R. to move on and allow this district heal and make strides we can be proud of! I also applaud the eight BOE members that voted to support Dr. O'Malley in this action. Regretably, though, this guarantees that Dr. O'Malley will be "targeted" with one of the most vicious and disreputable smear campaigns from the salaried (maligned bargaining unit)employees of this school district. I ask you to remember having read this post and the request that is being made of you today. Remember that Dr. O'Malley was hired by this school district to make necessary changes, and take necessary action, to fulfill his obligation (to this school district) for academic excellance and improving the learning environment for every student. And that it is exactly what he is trying to bring to this district. He stuck his neck out for us, and we owe him our full and undivided support. You can be sure that what transpired at Monday's BOE meeting is good indicator of where this is heading. And, if and when the time comes, we need to show up in force (both in numbers and in public support)and stand behind Dr. O'Malley. He is doing what we've asked of him and he deserves our support. It is the least we can do. Lastly, can Cathy Z. do anything more to disappoint our district in how she handles her responsibiities as a school board member? I can't take her "act" any longer...how she purports that her interests and actions are aligned with our student's best interests. This should mean, each and every student in this district, but it's clear that it isn't that at all. It's all hogwash!
It is crystal clear to those who have watched this charade over the past few years. She panders to the contractual employees of this district, in her own pay-to-play scheme. She supports their agenda, and in return, she makes wonderful strides in obtaining employment and awards (and other wonder perks) for her children. Granted, maybe her children haved earned a thing or two, but you can be sure that they are on the "fast track" way ahead of their peers, thanks to their mom's pandering. And, that's the saddest part of this whole saga. Her children will never know, for sure, whether what they've achieved was earned or was it gained out of recipriation. Is anybody else tired of this charade?

Anonymous said...

It sickened me to hear Cathy Z. state that she is a parent of a special needs child in the district. Yes, her child has special needs. I'd love for someone to dig into the fact that many programs were create specifically for her child, and then were not offered to other children in the district later.

For her to act like she supports other parents of special needs children in the district is ludicrous.

I give my deepest thanks to Dr. O'Malley and the rest of the board for getting rid of the waste of district space (and our tax money) that was Helen Rappaport.

Anonymous said...

My 2 kids have through this system and I can say that I have seen it all go down. All I will say is that if the doctor's name is on the line - he wants things done his way by people he knows and trusts.

I know little about Rappaport or how she deals with families. I am sure you will have a complaint from someone yearly- someone will always have a problem with decisions made - though, where there is smoke there is fire.

I want to see some of the other "dead" weight at Central office removed as well. If you add the numbers over there, its comes to over a million dollars of tax payer money in wages.

And dont forget, sounds like people have, that Joel G. gave her many of those "stellar" reviews over the years. Any reprocussions? Not so fast.....

Cathy Z and others over the years have ALWAYS looked out FOR THEIR KIDS FIRST, and it has been this way for 10 years. Principals and teachers have been let go and transferred all over the place to suit the needs of THEIR kids who happen to be at that school at that particular time. Cathy Z cried again didnt she??? Give me a break.

Who was the other lawsuit? Heard it was Kim H who they let go last year and now she is claiming some sort of wrongful termination. Who was at the board meeting last year when she gave her presentation? I wanted to throw up. How annoying. I was embarrassed to say that my tax money paid her 100k salary. Now she is not working at Middletwon either - surprise.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to Dr. O'Malley for taking on the machine in Matawan Aberdeen. It has taken an outsider who has no personal/political ties to our community to come in and do what so very obviously needed to be done. It was unfortunate that someone lost their job title,and that lawyer who showed up lost all of his marbles. Special Education is and has been broken for quite some time and it is about time that someone has the courage to make tough desicions. Obviously it had to be an outsider. I hope that the board members continue to support Dr. O'Malley. I know that as a taxpayer and voter I will. I was disappointed in the one board member who chose not to support our Superintendent. I believe there are many teachers who are also pleased with the turn of events. Bravo to the parents who spoke at that meeting in support of our superintendent !

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to add my voice to those who support Dr. O'Malley. I too, a voter and taxpayer, thank him for standing up for the students of this district. And will make sure to vote accordingly.

As for Cathy Z. there was NO suprise there, she has been running things for her own (and childrens) benefit all along. And yes, the ACT is getting pretty boring. How she can state year after year, that she is there for ALL the children couldn't be more of a lie. Unfortunately, there are many well intended people who want to provide quality education to all the children, and believe her line of bull and lies, and cast their votes for her.

It is very hard to find out what actually transpires in this town and school district since they make every effort to hide and deceive the public. Only now is light being brought to all this corruption, and hopefully chang is on the way.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone researched what Dr. O' Malley did for the special needs children of Mountainside? You should.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that Dr. O'Malley has done more for special needs kids in this district in the short time he's held his job than Bruce Quinn ever did.

He's taken a personal interest in many children's cases and got results where no other person has in the past.

I don't give a flying fig what he did in any other job (and an anonymous insinuation is no proof that he did anything wrong), as long as he keeps moving forward in the same fashion, I'm thrilled spitless.

Aberdeener said...

I have not but I know quite a bit of what he's done for the special needs children in our district.

Anonymous said...

Explain to me....if a supervisor can not supervise the CST...why did Dr. O'Malley downgrade Rappaport's position from Director to Supervisor and then state, latter, that she was not entitled to supervise the CST.

Interesting...was O'Malley not knowledgable of the regualtions a few months ago...or did he see an opportunity that was not there before

Aberdeener said...

Once Dr. O'Malley discovered Ms. Rappaport lacked the qualifications to be a director, he was forced to downgrade her to a supervisor position in order to comply with the New Jersey License Code.

As a supervisor, however, Ms. Rappaport was unable to oversee the CSTs and school psychologists. Hence, Dr. O'Malley needed to hire a director but he doesn't need a director and a supervisor.

Any other questions?

Anonymous said...

A better question would be why did Quinn not realize that Rappaport did not have the right credentials to hold the Director position. Why didn't he take a stand on the issue. Or was that just because his wife worked directly under Rappaport?

How on earth did this woman hold a job (and make a fat salary from it) for so long without anyone noticing that she was not qualified? No wonder the special services of our district are in such disrepair.

Does this not open up a lot of questions about the children who have been failed in this district? Could they have not been given better services and education if there had been a qualified director in place?

Thank heavens that Dr. O'Malley found this error and took action!

Anonymous said...

What!!!!

He downgraded her to a position that she was NOT ELIGIBLE for???
Let me get this straight "he was forced to do so by NJ License Code" but now removes her from this position because she is not able to supervise the district CST.

You guys don't get it OR RATHER WOULD PREFER TO MAKE YOUR SIDE BAR DEALS.

What is good for individual sped families may not be best for the district.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comments, this has become a HATE FULL town.

Anonymous said...

The Quinn spin has begun!!!

Aberdeener said...

We love Aberdeen. The anger you're seeing is against the betrayal of those whom we empowered to serve the community but instead served themselves.

As for the person who refuses to understand why Dr. O'Malley had to do what he did, I believe you're being disingenuous. You can disagree with his actions, maybe offer an alternative, but you can't claim he acted without cause.

Anonymous said...

CLAUSE???

A director/supervisor did not meet the requirements of their position

But there has not been a single negative comment in her 30 years of evaluations

Rather we look toward the "State Code" to find a reason to dismiss her

Dr O'Malley, with his vast and lengthy time in the district,can determine what is best for the special education community as opposed to parents on his selection committee

Anonymous said...

Who is Quinn??

Anonymous said...

In any district 15% are identified as special education and the cost of their services are 25% of the total budget.

One important court ruling dealing with the quality of special education services indicated that the district is required to provide a "Chevy not a Cadillac"

Yet parents continue to ask for the Cadillac.

I am sure that over 30 years Ms. Rappaport has said NO to the Cadillac requests.... and certain people are not happy...AND HAVE FOUND A NEW FRIEND IN DR O'MALLEY.

Wait till next year's budget

Anonymous said...

GO BACK TO MOUNTAINSIDE AND SEE YOUR FUTURE IN SPECIAL ED

Anonymous said...

THEY LOVED HIM AND DID EVERYTHING NOT TO THIS HERO GO????

Anonymous said...

These parents may have found a friend in Omalley, but it has been a long time since the kids of this district have had a friend. The party for the Cathy Z. is over!

Anonymous said...

Really look a little closer...that is not what I have been told...

Ask who made IEP decisions in such a small district with such limited resources

Anonymous said...

helen down, Joel next!

Anonymous said...

Imagine your Cadillac requests in a VERY tiny district.... who do you think decides????


He is your's

Anonymous said...

We'll take him and helen is yours. Good riddens. Happy retirement!!!

Anonymous said...

You deserve him!!!!

I will give you 2 years

Then come looking for a leader

BTW good luck with a new Director.

Let's see...30 years and they kick you out

Golly lee that's where I want to be
\
And forget an Interim

Anonymous said...

BTW

Ken Hall just died...he would never have allowed this kind of hatred in Matawan

We have sunk SO LOW

Anonymous said...

GOOD NIGHT

4 now

Anonymous said...

Unless you have a child in the district with special needs, this decision doesn't even affect you. Whether Rappaport is the supervisor or director or if it's someone else, your taxes aren't going to change.

And no complaints in 30 years? You need to take another look at all the law suits that have been filed while she was in charge.

As per how much money special ed costs? How much of that is for kids she's shipped out of district instead of getting her staff trained to deal with them? How many parents asked for their kids to go out of district after being treated horribly by her?

If the district's spec ed system wasn't in such disrepair, many of the kids in those out-of-district placements that cost so much would be in their home schools, saving a ton of money.

You want to blame spec ed for taking more of it's share of the money? Blame Helen. It all goes back to her and her inability to help anyone.

Parents learned really quick that if they couldn't afford a lawyer to take her to court, not to complain too loudly, or their children would suffer the consequences through her retaliation. Loss of services, inability to get services that other children were receiving. She knew how to make parents pay for going against her, you can be sure.

There were a lot of parents raising a glass to O'Malley.

And Helen hasn't been driven out. She still has the ability to take a job in the district that she is actually qualified for. I'm sure I'm not the only one who hopes she takes retirement and just goes quietly away.

Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

If parents were correct in what their children need from the district they would have won in court, many times over, which would have lead to her being pushed out by administration.

You deserve the future

Aberdeener said...

I hope that those people who feel our school district should only fulfill the state minimum requirements for our students don't also work in our school district.

Anonymous said...

Parents don't always win in court because they cannot keep up with paying for a lawyer to go against the district's lawyer (who they also pay for through are huge property taxes).

This district is known for keeping people in court until they just give up.

And yes, we do deserve what we get -- which is better than Helen Rappaport. Because ANYONE is better than her.

Anonymous said...

I'd be willing to bet a year's pay that any comments made in support of HR are not being made by parents who have children with special needs in this district. I have never, ever met a parent in that community who had anything nice to say about her. The horror stories could fill a book, though.

Anonymous said...

If this is the beginning of what is to come then maybe Dr O'Malley is headed in the right direction. If it is only business then we should expect the same kind of fate for the untouchables like Spells, Smith, Phillips, Gladstein, and Martucci. Administrators who are way overpaid and not performing. We shall see.

Anonymous said...

Years and years of hiring UNqualified people (friends) under Quinn, and Cathy Z's control. Now Dr. O'Malley is stuck cleaning up their mess. Hopefully, we can start to get rid of the rest of the underperforming administrators as well!

I support Dr. O'Malley and wish him well!

Anonymous said...

I, for one, look forward to the future. Finally, after years of waiting for something promising and something to be proud of, we have a plan, a vision and someone strong enough to "buck the system"...someone willing to make the difficult choices and tough decisions to improve academic performance in this district.
I am grateful to see the tide turning.

It's time for change in this district and it's time for everyone to embrace the goals of this school district; simply put, we are asking for enhanced learning opportunites for our children and we are striving to improve academic excellence.
This district has been an under performing district for many years, with no vision and no plan for the future. That, in anyone's book, has to be totally unacceptable.

The status quo is not enough and we deserve better. How do I measure Ms. Rappaport's achievement in this district? I look at the NJASK, NJPASS, Terra Nova, GEPA and HPSA results (over the past several years) of our Special Education students...and clearly, she has been a failure to these children. The level of academic achievement, for this group, is abysmal and it has been for several years. No strides have been made over the past few years to correct that trend and it did not come from a lack of dedication and commitment from the parents or the teachers of these students; their hands have been tied for they have been stuck in a quagmire...stuck with a system that doesn't work.

The failure is in how Special Services is managed, and that is Ms. Rappaport's responsibility. It is not enough to claim that this district provides services, you have to look at the outcomes. In the end, if the desired results are not being met, the services are failing and changes need to be implemented. Our district spends an inordinate amount on special services and programs for those in need, but the issue isn't the money or the cost. We spend, but results are not there. Plain and simple! We spend but we don't have the outcomes that these students need and deserve.

Special Services, as it is structured today, is ineffective and it needs to be re-structured towards a results driven program. Ms. Rappaport has been ineffective in bringing positive results, in a district that has supported new hires, initiatives and programs to help her succeed.

The system is broken and it needs a major overhaul. And, it is a sad that it came this late in the game for some of the students who have been in this ineffective Special Services system for several years. Clearly these children are the ones who were hurt by this and these children continue to struggle while this district tries to fix it. It is sad to hear the countless stories of parents whose children have suffered under a system of inefficiencies and incompetence (not at the teacher level, but in an Admistrative capacity). I support these parents in their hopes and dreams for their children. These parents aren't asking for a miracle, they are asking for (actually fighting for) the supportive learning environment their child needs to succeed.

It is clear that this group of children is struggling and their needs have not been met. And why the director of Special Services has not been held accountable, for this failure during her tenure, I simply do not know. What I do know is that she has, year after year, continually failed the children in Special Services and the time for corrective measures and accountability has come.
And, as Dr. O'Malley has assessed, that comes from replacing the position with an individual that is credential, qualified and commited to improving the learning environment for students with special needs. Ms. Rapapport has been grossly ineffective in her position and the change is long overdue. All the children in this school district deserve a learning environment where they can thrive and achieve. And, although I have strong objections to some of the aspects of NCLB, I support it's objective in ensuring that each and every child is provided with a quality education. Sad account that it took federal legislation to protect the educational rights of all children and put an end to the practice of social promotion and turning away from the needs of struggling students.

The funding is there (and has been there) to provide the level of education our children deserve and the payscale, for all district employees, is tops amongst most school districts in the State of New Jersey. So why are would we be odds with one another?

In the end, as parents of varying communities, (no matter where you live) we should have the same vision for our schools and our communities. Rather than fight change, help make this community proud of it's school system and help it accomplish tangible results...for every student in every school. I think our teachers and administrators know (and appreciate), that as a school community, we've done our part to support the employment of highly qualified individuals. The taxpayer in this community knows that roughly 73% of their municipal tax payment goes to supporting our neighborhood schools. This allows our school district to support lofty pay scales, guaranteed salary increases and provide a very generous benefits package. For this investment, we are simply looking for a school district that achieves at a level we can be proud of.

Most district employees live outside our community and most are fortunate to enjoy the satisfaction that comes with having wonder schools within the communities where they live. And, more than likely, most live in a community with a school system, whose academic performance, far exceeds what we see (and measure) in this community. Each and every community desires a strong and achieving school district and that is why change is needed in this district. That is exactly what Dr. O'Malley promsied us when he accepted the job, and that is what he is trying to bring to this district...on a daily basis. I support his efforts and I look forward to a promising future.

It's time for this school community to take a new direction and make improvements. For those select few, who don't understand the real issue, this may be your place of employment, but we look at the bigger picture and we have higher expectations; we see our children's future and we want their future to be the best that it can be.

We should have the same expecta-tions and we have to make positive changes. The improvements needed are the ones that will benefit the children in this school district. We should share the same vision, goals and objectives in the education of each and every child in this district. Let's do what we do best. Let's work together to make this district a high performing school district. Let's keep the negativity and destructive elements out of the equation. And, most importantly, let's be thankful for having a school district filled with many hard working, dedicated teachers and administrators. Personally, I thank those who "bring it" each and every day and I am hopeful that together we can build a stronger school community.

In closing, I would like to extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to teachers and administrative staff that, by doing what they do each and every day, show their dedication and desire to make this a great school district. Together, with some needed changes, we can do so much more for our children and I am glad to see this come to fruition. As parents, and as educators, success is measured in the achievement of each and every student. That is how we know if we are doing the right thing by our children.
Nothing more...nothing less.

Anonymous said...

In the comment I submitted above, I should have also included a thank you to the eight board members who voted to support Dr. O'Malley's decision to re-organize the Special Services area and his decision to go with a "reduction in force". Those that voted to support Dr. O'Malley have placed their trust and confidence in Dr. O'Malley's vision to bring this district's performance to a higher standard... new level of achievement. We realize that for him to succeed, with the goals we have asked him to achieve, we have to give him the latitude to make necessary changes and allow him the opportunity to succeed.
It was brave, thoughtful and the right decision to make. As for the one dissenting vote, your loyalties are showing and it is shameful that you fail to recognize what the community asks of you in your role as a board member. Just another wasted opportunity to show the community that you hear, and value, their concerns.

Anonymous said...

YOU ARE ALL SICK PUPPIES

Anonymous said...

Why, because we are dissatisfied with the district's performance and we are trying to make improvements? Justify your position, or is it just easily to resort to childish name calling?

Anonymous said...

Why? Because we want our children to have the same opportunities to learn and be educated as everyone else?

Because we want all the children in the district to have a better shot at a decent education?

Because we want people in jobs that they are actually qualified for?

If so, then sure, I'm a sick puppy.

Anonymous said...

NO

Because all I read is HATE

and excuses

Anonymous said...

Yes, excuses on the part of a school district that doesn't serve the special needs students or the regular students. Come on anon., do you think we're imagining this, or are you just trying to insult our intelligence. Yes we are hateful people because we feel every child deserves a decent education, and because we feel people should actually earn the salaries they receive from the taxpayers of this town. I don't hear hate, I hear praise and support for Dr. O'Malley for standing up to the corruption and mismanagement of those in control of this school district for years.

What you hear is your private playground coming and crashing down.

Anonymous said...

All you read is hate and excuses? We must be reading different postings. You are so zoned in on your perspective that you don't (or won't) allow yourself to see this from another point of view. This is about children that aren't getting (and haven't been getting) the services that they need. It is about fixing that injustice and going in a new direction. Try a different perspective and try to put yourself in the shoes of a parent that relies on special services for their child. Look at the NJDOE website and view state testing results for our school district and you will see that almost every child, in special education, is in the partially proficient cluster. Year, after year, the same result. NCLB will not allow a school district to stay with this trend. Whether that child be male, female, black, white, asian, socio-economically disadvantaged, special eduction...it doesn't matter. NCLB ensures that by 2014, every child will be, at minimum, proficient. This distict has a lot of ground cover in the next 5 years to bridge the expansive gap that exists in proficiency. It must change now and it needs leadership that can bring results. Helen Rappaport is not the one to bridge this gap; she helped to expanded the gap and left a mess for someone else to fix. Put your loyalty, for her, aside for one moment. If this is your child, would you want your child to receive the help and services they need to succeed? Would you fight for your child? Would you advocate for your child's rights? Wouldn't you fight for a program that was effective and able to produce positive results and positive outcomes? I bet you would! And that is precisely what these parents are fighting for. They are fighting for their children, and others with similar circumstances, because the system is a failure and it is broken and it needs to be fixed. Other comparable school districts are getting results and support the right of every child to get a quality education. You fight for the right of one individual to stay in a position with highly unfavorable results. How about you take a few minutes to worry about the children in special services? How about you find it in your heart to fight for what's best for them? What is best for them is a re-vamped special services program and a new direction. The current system is failing them and they deserve better. That is what is at issue here and that you could justify anything other than the education of a child is unjustifiable.

pissed off taxpayer said...

It was interesting to see the most militant part of the teachers union present to support a person who was not even a member. Voters need to remember that these are the same people who whine on about how they care about our children when the contract is up. Then they demand and extract the maximum possible from us. They don't give a damn if every single one of us was out of work. Just give us our money.

They don't equally share the raises they get with the newer teachers. The keep the lion's share for themselves and tell the rest of the teachers they did a great job for them. Sounds like a great organization, if you have seniority you get a nice raise, if not you get a few pennies.

I hope the new teachers wake up and realize that the leadership of their union is gang of greedy selfish people that sells them out cheap on every contract.

Let them go on strike next time....

Anonymous said...

All I have to say is thank God Dr. O'Malley listened to our complaints and did what he promised us

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to remember, the decision has been made. The very fact that there is this much acrimony around the issue of delivery of special services is evidence enough that there is a serious problem in this district. Apparently, the superintendent felt the way to fix it is to restructure the department, from the top. His job is to see a problem and attempt to address it.

I am sure that there are many dedicated professionals who work for the district and want to help children succeed. But the dissenters sound like employees and what's being said sounds disgraceful. I think the entire department of special services may be allowing just a few to speak for them, and unfortunately these people are sounding base and vindictive.

I am also sure that parents have been marginalized and denied, just listen to them, they are clearly at their wits end. There are always disenfranchised parents of special needs children in every district, but this is too many people with too many stories to call a minority. There is an “us vs them” mentality at MARSD, that is plain to see, even to an outsider. Example: Someone called the parents a "fringe" group at the board meeting. That was someone speaking on behalf of the employees and Ms. Rappaport. That is a disgrace. The state has mandated that each district have a parent group. That is because the “us vs. them” mentality in special education is no longer the standard. The standard in the special services community has shifted, and it is now collaboration.
So, parents, staff, put on your collaborative hats and get ready to work together. There will be stumbling blocks, but you all must stop the acrimony for the sake of the children. Teachers and Child Study Team, start listening to parents and try to find ways to communicate and collaborate, finds ways to compromise. Or get out of the way because the old way of doing things will no longer be tolerated, as evidenced by recent events. Parents, get ready for your next IEP meeting with your concerns clearly delineated. Remember that you truly are not entitled to the Cadillac, unfortunately, but rather to the Chevy. That is sad, but true. The federal government hasn’t given districts the funding to create that Cadillac level of programming. However, remember that you are not asking for the Cadillac, in many cases, you are just asking to trade in your Go Cart for a working vehicle. Research based programs with documented results are not considered Cadillac services. Our neighboring districts are offering Project Read, Wilson, Language!, Touch Math etc. That is the new Chevy. In the past, many people realized this and just moved. But the economy is tight and people can’t just move, they have to stay and fight.

Also remember this, despite the most amazing of programs and teachers, there will likely be some cases where students with special needs, due to the severity of their disability, may not meet the proficiency standards on the NJASK. There could be more kids proficient right now, to be sure, but remember that even the best of the best can’t remediate a disability out of existence. If they were all able to achieve grade level, there would be no need for special education. So keep your expectations in check, and your eye on the prize.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who the person in charge of the Special Services department was, how many stellar observations were in the file, or how long they worked for the district. The bottom line is the department is not functioning in an effective manner. Perhaps now it will.

NsectionJoe said...

I have come into this subject very late and just need to remind all of you of the vast amounts of money that this district has spent and continues to spend, which does not add to test scores, college placement, college preparedness or the work force.

While I am a great believer in a child being well rounded and the strong need to possess common sense as well as schooled intelligence, it is obvious that when programs and activities drain significant educational funds from preparing students for the realities of life, their needs to be a review and analysis or costs and positive effects derived from same. It really must be looked at from the bottom up for benefits to the whole. I do not question the education that is derived from team sports and other similar activities, but obviously our districts priorities have been skewed for many years, when this districts test scores remained dismal and millions of dollars were spent haphazardly and with questionable oversight as to need or positive results.

From watching the most recent school board meeting it is obvious steps have been taken to ensure these meetings are able to be viewed and understod. I would only suggest that such meetings and their importance needs to be shown more than twice a week. I would suggest a daily and varied schedule be considered, as well as a more informative advisory to parents of the available airings.

No other program shown on the school district channel is more important then the one that shows us our leadership in action, as well as the process and input from the public.

The most recent airing was proof positive that the subject of special needs problems and unnecessary costs and pain to parents has been a practice
with a cause and effect that has been a plague on this district for far too long. Past administration and leadership needs to be held accountable as well as the attorneys and staff that allowed this crime against the children and their parent, who were ridiculed and pained merely to seek that which those in our district knew they were mandated to be given.

I among many am offended by Ms. Zavorskas's statements that she understood the pain that the parents of special needs students go through. She used her position and more to get what she wanted to for her child. It was typical of Ms. Zavorskas that she claimed victim status once again. She is kidding no one and owes every parent of a special needs child in this district an apology. This since she ensured her child got everything she felt they needed and costs and quality placement and transportation in programs which was guaranteed due to her official position and well known pressuring tactics. All the while when Ms. Zavorskas was supposedly pained, many others seeking the same for their children suffered with a school district that stalled, ignored and tormented many whose only desire was to get the same that Ms.Zavorskas made happen for her child. Ms. Zavorskas did not suffer one bit she made it happen.Ms. Zavorskas did not have to hire lawyers, consultants and more to get what their child was entitled to and mandated to receive by the educational processes within the state or federal government.

I would be remiss if i failed to recognize and compliment recent improvements and steps which have been taken by our new Superintendent, who if nothing else has put interfering school board members in their place and kept them far away from the day to day operations in our schools, which has been devastating to the work environment and employee morale for many years . If Dr. O'Malley has done nothing else he has earned my respect and my sincere thanks for that one positive step.

If one was to ask to get a full accounting of the moneys spent in areas other than educational pursuits in any district I can guarantee all of us would be shocked at the total costs removed from actual education budgets. Their needs to be a middle ground reached that ensures a well rounded student graduates ready for college, military service or the work force. That is any districts proof of success.

Twinsdad said...

Here is a question no one has asked. last yeat Parents of Special peopel put together an art show featuring the solo and joint works of some of the students in the special education program in our school district. At the opening of the event a number of the children attended as did a few members of the board of education a couple of town councilmen, the then newly hired superintendent of schools managed to fit the event into their busy schedules. Helen Rappaport nor any of her minions managed to show up to support the children they have been charged with caring for. But the minions show up because of the chance that their leader's position (not the leader her position) is being terminated in a reorganization plan. I think their priorities are out of order. Kids First.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone think that Ms. Zavorskas was given special treatment by Rappaport and thus was boxed in when she had to make a decision on her? If that is the case as some have suggested then those who support her need to rethink their position. That is just wrong.

Anonymous said...

I think that the lyrics from this song off the new Guns N Roses says it best, so here's to ya Rappaport and all you biddys who follow her like "sick puppies"-- my dedication from me, who knows what it is like to be a kid who needs help and for all the parents you beat down! See Ya, wouldn't want to be ya!

SORRY -- GnR, Chinese Democracy

You like to hurt me
you know that you do
you like to think
in some way
that it's me
an' not you
(But we know that isn't true)

You like to have me
jump and be good
But I ...
Don't want to do it

You don't know why
I won't act the way
You think I should

You thought they'd make me
Behave an' submit (submit)

What were you thinking
'Cause I don't forget

You don't know why
I won't give in
to hell with the pressure
I'm not cavin' in

You know that I
Got under your skin
You sold your soul
But I won't let you win

You talk too much
you say I do

Difference is nobody cares about you

You've got all the answers
You know everything
Why nobody asked you
's a mystery to me

I'm sorry for you
not sorry for me
You don't know who in the hell to
Or not to believe

I'm sorry for you
Not sorry for me
You don't know who you can trust now
Or you should believe
you should believe
You don't know who you can trust now
Or you should believe
you close your eyes
All well an' good
I'll kick your A--
like I said that I would

You tell them stories they'd rather believe
Use an' confuse them
They're numb and naive

Truth is the truth hurts
Don't you agree

It's harder to live
With the truth about you
Than live with the lies about me

Nobody owes you
Not one goddamn thing
You know where to put your
Just shut up and sing

I'm sorry for you
Not sorry for me
You don't know who in the hell to
Or not to believe
I'm sorry for you
Not sorry for me
You chose to hurt those who "love" you
An' won't set them free
won't set them free
You chose to hurt those who "love" you
An' won't set them free

You don't need
Anyone else to be
Sorry for you
You've got no heart
You can't see
All that you've done "for" me
I know the reasons
You tear me apart

Bye-Bye!

FED UP With the BS said...

I like the song lyrics! But perhaps you should have included Cathy Zavorskas in your dedication too. She has clearly taken a few more giant leaps into crazyville lately. I watched that disgusting BOE meeting on TV the other night and she made me sick! All that blubbering about her special needs child and her good experience....spare me! She barely acknowledges her "special need kid" unless it is convenient for her purposes. That is a crime in my book, I have seen her child and he really does need something at school but I guess she sold him out for her own comfort. I don't know how she can sit there and continue to defend that Rappaport person after hearing those gut wrenching comments from those parents! I was really impressed with the lady who said she is a teacher somewhere else and embarrassed by what happens here. I think Cathy Zavorskas should resign from the BOE after her clearly biased behavior, she no longer remembers why she is on the boe. Bravo, to the other members for standing up for Dr. O'Malley 8-1! I like all the progress that the district has made in 6 months, thanks Dr. O'Malley!!!

greatful parent said...

Dr. O'Malley said when he first came to our district that we should not thank him until he really did something, well, THANK YOU DR. O'MALLEY!!!!!!!!!! You can't begin to understand the impact of your courageous decisions. Now ALL kids in MARSD can have a chance to reach their full potential. Thank you for caring more about kids than the slimy adults who only care about politics and big paychecks!

Anonymous said...

O'Mally isn't running the schools, the BOE isn't running the schools, a handful of parents are running the schools.

Soon enough O'Mally will realize what monsters he has created and how much it will cost ALL of us.

He'll be gone in 2 years, with a HS on his resume, not caring about what he left in his path.

I'm no fan of HR, or some other administrators, but this guy is only after one thing...fattening his resume.

If you did any research on him at all you'd see what a mess he left in Mountainside. He'll do the same here and all of you who think is such a wonderful assest to the district will be ready to switch sides immediately when the next idiot that the board picks comes into town.

Anonymous said...

"How many of her colleagues were there because of union pressure or fear that if she were not taken out of the position she would retaliate against them for not showing up?"

How could she retaliate against anyone if she isnt a supervisor?
A little dramatic aren't you?

Anonymous said...

If he spends even just two more days in the district, he would have done more than the previous super did in five years! He is making great changes in the district and he appears to be working to get the board to work together. Oh yah-and he cares about kids! What a change this is!!!

Anonymous said...

"How many of her colleagues were there because of union pressure or fear that if she were not taken out of the position she would retaliate against them for not showing up?"

How could she retaliate against anyone if she isnt a supervisor?
A little dramatic aren't you?


If the board vote had gone her way, she would still have been a supervisor, still in charge, and able to retaliate (wouldn't be the first time)against those who did not follow her "request" to show up.

She was not out until the vote. And don't think for a minute she doesn't still have her "minions" in the district, ready to give people a hard time.

I've already heard from 2 parents who have been given the cold shoulder from CST memebers because they showed up at that meeting.

Isn't this supposed to be what's best for the kids? Oh, I guess that only means if you agree with everything that you are told to do and never actually stand up for you children.

Anonymous said...

We all knew that the vote wasn't going to go her way. Once O'Malley made his decision there was no way the vote was going to go the other way.

Maybe the CST gave these parents the cold shoulder because they are afraid they'll be next for the witch hunt?

Some of the parents at that meeting were rude, and obnoxious.(Not the ones who spoke)They were in the audience making comments (loudly) the whole time. Maybe they were 2 of the ones who got the cold shoulder.

I was there to see my child get an award, and only by luck(bad luck)did I have the unfortunate challange of sitting next to two of the most rude women i have ever heard. I wouldn't dobut if they were the 2 you are speaking of.

Anonymous said...

What mess did Dr. O' Malley leave in Mountainside? When I "vetted" him,( I'm not a professional; I just surf around a lot) I couldn't find anything. He did dismiss an untenured Director of Special Ed - but I think I remember that she was insubordinate or something??

& I'm sorry the anonymous 12/5 @4:14) had to sit next to 2 rude women - we they special ed parents or perhaps they were dissatisfied with the abysmal test scores?

& CST members are routinely rude to parents, so I doubt anyone took that too personmally. It goes with the hiring criteria. You must have extremely poor people skills to get hired by the previous administrations.

Anonymous said...

They were special ed. parents, although they did not get up to speak. It was easlity figured out by the comments they were making.

Most of the CST memebers were hired BEFORE the last superintendant.

I've been treated rudely by administrators and office staff before as well. Do I run crying to my neighbors about it? No, I deal with it myself. I think a lot of the "she said, he said" comments on this page are BS anyway. We could all say someone tiold me this, or my neighobrs told me this happened to them etc. Anything to try and help THEIR own opinions.

Anonymous said...

How's this for a first hand, personal account:

A few years ago, my child was having a very hard time at school. I could not get the support I needed from the CST in that school, so I made an appointment to speak with Rappaport. We spoke for about 1/2 an hour, in which time she assured me that the problems would be worked on.

With high expectations, I made an appointment to speak again with my CST. The made several comments about things that I "told" Rappaport about them. The statements were outright lies. Either Rappaport told them the wrong information, for whatever reason, or the team itself had made things up, for whatever reason.

Either way, it was, I assume, to keep me from going back and complaining again. It worked. I never trusted Rappaport or my CST again.

I can't completely blame the parents of kids in the spec ed community from being frustrated and upset. We've been lied to, talked down to, told our children do not have the disabilities that doctors have diagnosed them with. We have to enter meetings alone, pitted against child study teams who assume we are unintelligent, not educated on spec ed law, who are at best dismissive of our opinions, at worst completely rude.

While we just want our children to have the freaking chance at an education that is taken for granted by all the parents of typical kids.

For crying out loud - while other parents are down on the test scores and how so many kids are going to Brookdale, we'd be happy to have even those test scores and the chance for our kids to go to Brookdale!

The spec ed system in our district is broken! The rest of the community might not care - "it doesn't affect me!", but when our kids are so far behind that they can't continue their education, or get jobs, or live independently, because this district has failed them do you not realize that your tax dollars are going to continue to support our children? Through state programs, assisted living, state/federal aid of all types?

It's for everyone's benefit to get this system fixed and give these children a fighting chance at the best future that they are capable of.

Isn't that what we should want for ALL children?

Anonymous said...

Who are these alleged group of parents that supposedly run the BOE?

Are they the same bowling league parents that decide who gets to coach - for both the township & school teams - and who's kid gets to play?

Could it be the allegedly drunken mechanical bull riding parents of St. Clements basketball teams? Oh, my mistake, that party was for the KIDS.

OOPS - same group of people!!

Anonymous said...

After watching the pod cast of the latest BOE meeting, I heard a couple of people mention a "fringe" group of parents that are supposedly influencing the BOE.

Are they talking about the special ed parents? Shouldn't the spec ed parents have a voice in how the program for the district runs the spec ed program, at least to some extent? From all the parents who spoke up about how the district's program is broken, it sounds like the BOE is just trying to move forward to something that will finally work.

And how do these parents become a "fringe" group, for crap's sake? Because they are in the minority? Would we call a group of parents of African American children who were concerned about how their children were being treated in the district a "fringe" group, just because they are a small group of parents active in their children's education?

And doesn't the district, as necessary by law, have a designated group of parents of children with disabilities to confer with? If it is required by law, how does it become a "fringe" group?

Funny how people with differing opinions that the one dictated by the "old guard" of the district becomes "fringe" or misogynistic. Personally, I call them right.