Stifling the Special Education Stigma in Verona, Cedar Grove

Lauren Williams's picture
Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Placing students in the "least restrictive environment" while still providing them necessary assistance is chief, officials from both the Cedar Grove and Verona school districts said.

"Restrictive" environments may include, at the high end, an out-of-district private school where a child must be transported to, and at the lowest or least restrictive end, general education. While both districts' school officials stressed that they aim to provide students with enough help to remain in their respective public school system, at times, students' needs cannot be met in-district and they are sent to an out-of-district facility - be that another town's public school, a county facility, or a private, specialized institution.

Of the roughly 150 Cedar Grove children enrolled in special services this year, 30 are educated out-of-district, according to Cedar Grove Superintendent Dr. Gene Polles. Verona has more students enrolled in special services this year - 237 - but there, too, 30 are educated outside of town, according to Verona Director of Special Services Libby Skinner.

"We really try to keep them here, in their neighborhood schools," Skinner said, seated just inches away from posters about inclusion that hang on a bulletin board in her office.

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