You Are Not Alone
It is so important for parents and others to see that they are not alone in their advocacy efforts. On this page, people share their questions and thoughts about the Massachusetts special education system, and their struggles to make the system work for the children in their care. Many, many others are on this journey with you.
“My son has been in the resource room for 4 years then this year was placed in the Life Skills Room. Now we are FIGHTING to get him in private out of district placement to a school where he has belonged since the beginning. The school has identified my son as having a diagnosis of Specific Learning Disability, to Neurological, to Intellectual, back to Neurological. We just had him tested privately by both a Neuropsychologist and a Speech and Language Specialist. Both evaluations came back saying my son is of normal intelligence and is dyslexic. He’s been so held back by the school’s negligence that he has obvious multiple learning disabilities besides depression and emotional deficits. My son hasn’t made even one grade of progress in 5 years. I know I am at fault for this too for being so naive, but it all stops HERE. I am done hearing ‘give us 6 more months.’ Those 6 month requests have grown into 5 years of gross neglect at the hands of our Sped Department.”
“I was told by a school system that they could not offer home services to a child under six years of age. Is this correct? The child has been too ill to go to school due to recurrent hospitalization, pneumonia, on a vent, etc. So, for the past year he has received NO schooling, no therapies....NOTHING! I thought he should at least be getting tutoring, PT, etc. now that he is home and well enough for that. So, is this an accurate statement? -- ‘could not offer home services to a child under six years of age’ -- Is there a regulation? My gut tells me no, but this is according to the Director of Special Ed.”
“We are trying to maintain a positive relationship with the school system. We are new to this, terrified for our child, and have been blindsided by the obstacles put in front of us. SPEDWatch has been a tremendous resource.”
Patti and Bill Visconti
“My son’s school called the police when my 7 year old son was upset (he was suffering from anxiety) and tried to run away from school. They locked my son in an empty room while they watched him through a small window in the door. They called the police and I arrived at the school to find my son in a room being questioned by three police officers. It was a horrifying experience for my son and myself, the school did nothing to try and calm my son down or to stop him from hurting himself. It was shocking that not one of the trained school staff would help my son!”
“I am at a loss. The school is not meeting my child’s needs. What do I do? She is not even five yet and I am already exhausted from this constant struggle.”
“I admire the work SPEDWatch does and I look forward to joining. I have three young kids in sped with significant disabilities and am constantly fighting to get them services. Hearing about the work SPEDWatch does gives me energy. It is quite amazing, and it gives hope to people you do not even know.”
“A couple of years ago when my son with PDD-NOS was in a preschool autism program my wife saw one of the classroom aides in the supermarket. The aide told my wife about something that happened with our son in the classroom. The school learned about their conversation and they verbally reprimanded the aide. The only way we knew about the reprimand was because when my wife was picking up our son from school she saw the aide crying and all emotionally upset while standing by her car. My wife asked her if she was ok and the aide told my wife what happened. The aide also told my wife that her supervisor told her she is not supposed to discuss school related matters with the parents and that if she does it again she would be fired. Now that I think back about that episode, I start to wonder to myself: ‘what exactly don’t they want us to know about what is going on inside of that school?’”
“My son has a 1:1 aide. His IEP states ABA methodology used throughout entire day. The only person that can make this happen is his 1:1 aide. If she is not there, the ABA methodology is not being used. Today his aide informed me he had a difficult day because she was needed in a different classroom that was short-staffed. My son was ‘off the walls’ for several hours. Should I let it slide and hope this does not happen again? Or, should I write a letter and inform them this is something THAT BETTER not happen again?”
“Thank you for your guidance. We received a complete classroom report card for my pre-school aged son this week. In addition, we are now scheduled to receive the IEP goal generated progress note by end of Feb. As you know, we'll need to stay on top of this promise. We found it so helpful to receive the clear, easy to follow suggestions that you gave coupled with examples of supportive federal or state policy/law. We ended up scheduling a conference with our son's teacher first- with the notion that we would connect with the Head of Special Ed. if need be. We currently have several other non-compliance issues on the table with the Sped. Director some which involve compensation for services. We await her response (1 week so far). We are newbies to this group... and wish we had joined many moons ago.”
Jane and Mike Abata
“Thank you for your help regarding the verbally abusive teacher I told you about. I did write a letter and cited the public records law you forwarded. Our son’s developmental pediatrician assisted us in filing a 51A yesterday. Today we learned that we are the THIRD 51A filed on this teacher. I can't believe it.”
SPEDWatch membership is open to all who support our mission “to secure the educational rights of all Massachusetts schoolchildren with disabilities.”
As a SPEDWatch member, you’ll have access to our members-only listserv; the membership portion of our web site containing valuable resources such as form letters and advocacy briefs; and discounts on SPEDWatch events and merchandise. You’ll be kept up to date on changes in special education law and process. You’ll have any ally in the trenches, monitoring activity that threatens to undermine children’s special education rights.
SPEDWatch will partner with you in your pursuit of educational equity for schoolchildren with special needs. You’ll be joining a community of people who truly understand what you’re going through, because they are fighting the same battles. In SPEDWatch, you’ll find the practical and emotional support we all need to continue to fight for our children. You won’t be alone anymore.
Become a SPEDWatch member and be part of a vibrant community dedicated to building a world where future generations no longer have to exhaust themselves emotionally, physically, and financially, just to ensure their children receive the education to which they are legally entitled.
Why Membership Matters
Throughout history, people have relied on the strength of their sheer numbers to vanquish oppressive governments and eradicate unjust conditions. The American Revolution, the Women’s Right to Vote Movement, the Labor Movement, the Civil Rights Movement -- all these succeeded because people organized in large numbers and refused to back down until their demands were met. SPEDWatch believes the same approach needs to be a part of the fight for special education rights. In short, the more members we have, the stronger we become.
As a member, you’ll have an opportunity to participate in protest demonstrations, boycotts, letter-writing/call-in drives, and other nonviolent direct action measures that derive their power directly from the number of people who participate.
We recognize that everyone has their own level of comfort when it comes to participating in nonviolent direct action campaigns. Some folks are at ease holding picket signs and marching in the streets while the press take pictures and conduct interviews. Others prefer to participate in less public but equally important ways. Every SPEDWatch member is critical to our special education rights movement. If all you can do today is join us and push our numbers one higher, it so important that you do so.
One of the most powerful benefits of SPEDWatch membership is the members-only listserv.
The SPEDWatch listserv operates as the only listserv in Massachusetts devoted exclusively to providing substantive advice about how to address specific problems encountered in the special education system. Members get straightforward, understandable information about how to directly confront violations of special education law, and what to do to maximize a child’s chances of receiving the education to which they are legally entitled. The listserv is populated by over 800 individuals including parents, guardians, attorneys, advocates, clinicians, agency personnel, and educational professionals, many of whom have a deep understanding of special education law, process, and policy.
Along with practical guidance, the listserv connects you to emotional support from others who are travelling down the very same road you are -- fighting for children’s special education rights. Don't walk that road alone. Stay in the company of others who understand your struggle and can provide real help.
The SPEDWatch listserv is not moderated. This means that posts appear on the listserv immediately upon submission. Please download and review the rules.
Membership By Location
As of July 1, 2020, SPEDWatch has a membership of 888 individuals. The number in parentheses indicates the number of registered SPEDWatch members in that town, state, or country.
Buzzards Bay (1)
Chestnut Hill (2)
East Longmeadow (2)
Fall River (3)
Manchester BTS (1)
North Adams (2)
North Andover (3)
North Attleboro (2)
South Hadley (1)
Vineyard Haven (2)
West Boylston (2)
West Bridgewater (2)
West Brookfield (2)
West Springfield (1)
Membership in other States
Photos by Raymond Earley and Marie Picard Craig