Posted on April 3, 2019 by Greg MacKinnon
Hartford – State Rep. Mitch Bolinsky (R-Newtown) was invited to deliver opening remarks for the 2019 Special Education Day at the State Capitol on Wednesday, April 3, 2019.
Organized by Connecticut SEPTO (Special Education Parent Teacher Organization) the day attracted hundreds of families from across the state. Students and families visited their legislators to advocate for increased awareness, earlier detection and intervention to maximize access and minimize cost per student by working together with our public school systems to prevent students, with different learning styles, from falling behind.
Rep. Bolinsky said, “Too often, I hear from parents who feel overwhelmed and alone in their quest to provide early, collaborative and appropriate services to address special needs. All they want is their children to succeed in school, socially, and later on in life. Many parents share common experiences but may not have a support network to assure them they are not alone. Parents know their child is Constitutionally guaranteed a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) by the State of Connecticut, but very few know how to go about the process of achieving this. Because the state underfunds Special Education, local school districts are challenged to fit special needs into the framework of their local school budgets. They are often not adequately staffed to meet the demand, resulting in long delays and parental frustration over unmet needs, as their cherished child falls behind in school. I want all of Newtown to know that we have an active, parent-led SEPTO group in town and they are a great resource to help every special needs child’s family to navigate and de-mystify the process. It’s also liberating to have the support of other parents who understand what you’re experiencing and know that you’re not alone.”
Newtown SEPTO’s goal is to support families by helping children with special needs reach their greatest potential while fostering collaboration between parents and educators.
“The process can feel pretty adversarial to parents. It’s hard, between work and the long hours parents put into advocating, educating and devising strategies to help their child, not only can the child feel isolated at falling behind but, parents also feel the isolation and exhaustion of what seems to be a never-ending battle. Long delays usually lead to families taking action to outplace their child to address critical needs more quickly but, sadly, most families cannot afford to. Sometimes, families litigate, which is also a very expensive proposition to force a school district to do what they know is their child’s Constitutional right. It’s confusing and that’s why parents need the support of their local SEPTO. Ideally, I believe if we applied all the money Connecticut schools districts spend litigating, we could fund early detection and interventions to prevent kids falling behind in the first place, without blowing up education budgets. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and will improve our overall education systems’ outcomes,” explained Rep. Bolinsky.
For more information about the Newtown SEPTO, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their Facebook page by searching “Newtown CT SEPTO”.
Rep. Bolinsky, a 4-term member of the Education Committee, has a long-standing record of supporting the special education system, like his co-sponsored legislation for a Special Education Task Force and the Early Detection of Dyslexia.