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Bedford Special-Education Parents Blast District's Performance

Parents in the Bedford Central School District spoke critically of how special-education students have been served.
Parents in the Bedford Central School District spoke critically of how special-education students have been served. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

BEDFORD, N.Y. -- Bedford Central parents are sharply critical of how the  school district is serving special-education children.

Several mothers, who are members of the district's Special Education Parent Teacher Organization (SEPTO), aired their grievances during a public forum at the school board's Dec. 3 meeting. Fellow district residents also came to speak out that night regarding Schools Superintendent Jere Hochman's action pertaining to a cancelled race-relations workshop.

Lori Wolk Sipkin, Bedford Corners, expressed disappointment in the quality of services provided to her 11-year-old daughter, who is in a special-ed program. Her concerns are regarding her daughter's scholastic achievement and speech.

Sipkin, who said her daughter has mild cerebral palsy and is "basically non-verbal," recalled getting an iPad for her as an assistance device after it was suggested by a school therapist.

Her daughter's school, Sipkin claimed, gave a notice that she could no long bring the iPad, while resulted in two years worth of evaluations and discussions before she was allowed to do so.

Sipkin, speaking in general, said that special-education students have been treated like “second-class citizens." She also expressed frustrated with a special-education curriculum change, claiming that there was no input sought from parents.

Millie Bush, a Pound Ridge resident with a ninth-grader at Fox Lane High School, argued that special-education kids are put on a “pre-determined path, not a diploma path.”

Bush also addressed the district's search for a new director of special education, a post that is currently filled on an interim basis. She argued that there needs to be someone with experience and can introduce and implement new programs.

“That goal is non-negotiable.”

Bush also called for bringing technology across the school district and accommodating the individual needs of kids.

Bedford Village resident and parent Ruth Goldstein called for there to be a school board sub-committee for special education.

“We believe that what exists is so broken that you must accept our willingness to collaborate with ideas, questions and even with funding to make this happen," she said.

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