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Press Release: Parents and advocates express concern over thousands of backlogged BPS special education assessments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Date: October 8, 2020

 

Contact: Edith Bazile, 781-510-3015, esbazile@gmail.com

Roxann Harvey, 617-905-7045, email@bostonspedpac.org

 

Boston schools began providing some in-person services as of October 1; however, parents and advocates in the Boston Emergency Coordination Group expressed concern over a report that the Boston Public Schools (BPS) face a backlog of thousands of assessments. BPS halted these legally mandated assessments in March when COVID-19 closed schools. The assessments are required for BPS students to access special education services provided by the District. The vast majority of these students awaiting assessment are students of color. Students of color are again being deprived of their education by BPS’ failure to develop a plan to address this backlog.

 

“These assessments provide a doorway to needed educational services for thousands of students,” insists Edith Bazile, former BPS special educator and administrator. “That door is now closed, and there is a line of thousands of students and their families waiting outside. As COVID-19 case numbers in Boston continue to rise, conducting these assessments as quickly as possible, while in-person learning can still safely happen, is critical. However, I don’t see any sense of urgency at the District about getting these assessments done.”

 

For Kevin Murray of Massachusetts Advocates for Children, “We are especially worried about children who turned three during the pandemic. They will be in a terrible limbo as of October 15 when they will no longer have access to Early Intervention Services.”

 

Roxann Harvey is chair of the Boston Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SpEdPAC), an organization of special education parents. “We know that the BPS has a huge amount on their plate, but we need to see a specific plan that shows that these children are a priority for the District,” suggests Ms. Harvey. “Somebody needs to step up and treat this like the emergency that it is. ‘We are working on it’ just isn’t an acceptable response now that school has started. The District has a legal responsibility to get this testing done.”

 

The Boston Emergency Coordination Group is a network of local parent groups, legal services organizations, and educational advocates convened by Massachusetts Advocates for Children to address the structural inequities with special education in the BPS, during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

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