Christine Tetreault: South Hadley school budget cuts

Buses from Five Star Transportation pick up students from South Hadley High School at dismissal.

Buses from Five Star Transportation pick up students from South Hadley High School at dismissal. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 04-12-2024 2:28 PM

Modified: 04-12-2024 8:45 PM


Superintendent Mark McLaughlin has said the quiet part out loud: The proposed school budget and restructuring of the district’s delivery of services will be accomplished at the expense of students with disabilities and the paraprofessionals who serve them. According to one news report, identifying alternative solutions over immediately referring students for special education at the first signs of difficulty would be a key component of this restructuring.

 As a family member of a person with disabilities and a special education attorney, I must point out that withholding appropriate services is not only morally unacceptable, it is a violation of federal and state law. These laws actually require districts to proactively identify and evaluate students who may need special education. Paraprofessionals are crucial to providing the correct services to students with disabilities with fidelity.

In addition, this plan is penny-wise and pound-foolish. Among other things, providing appropriate services will save the town public funds spent on lawyers when the town breaks the law by taking the above steps. Attorneys representing school districts typically charge at least $350 an hour. Taxpayers: Would you rather have your tax money spent on educating productive members of your community? Or paying Boston area lawyers $350 an hour? Before Town Meeting on May 10, please urge your School Committee to reconsider this unconscionable budget.

Christine Tetreault

West Springfield

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