In his 2011-12 Executive Budget proposal, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has included numerous statutory changes which could severely impact the future of New York's 4201 Schools for deaf, blind and severely physically disabled children. Rochester School for the Deaf is one of eleven 4201 Schools in New York State.
NON-NY STATE RESIDENTS, WE CERTAINLY THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT. WHILE NY RESIDENT SIGNATURES OBVIOUSLY CARRY MORE WEIGHT THAN NON-RESIDENTS, IF YOU ATTENDED A NY 4201 SCHOOL AND NOW NO LONGER LIVE IN NY PLEASE NOTE THAT IN THE COMMENTS.
Components of the proposal include:
1. 4201 Schools' distinction will change from a state-supported private school, to an approved private special education school.
2. Most of the 4201 Education Law regarding Schools for the Deaf and the Blind and severely physically disabled children will be eliminated, and instead schools will be moved to the category of 4410 schools (special education services).
3. The funding structure for these schools will be changed to a 'rate-setting' model. This means that tuition would now be paid by school districts, not the state. With many school districts struggling with deep cuts, the 4201 Schools are concerned that they will not choose to pay tuition to send students to our schools. Instead, they may opt to keep students in their own programs.
4. Our eleven schools will be prohibited from having multidisciplinary teams to assess students, and prohibited further from developing IEP's for our students. All assessments and IEP development will be done by the school district. The 4201 Schools are concerned that school districts may not have the expertise to conduct quality assessments and to develop appropriate IEP's for students.
5. The current proposed timeline allows our students to stay at their current school until June 2012. Then, the school district's new IEP's would take effect and determine placement.
6. All employees hired after June 13, 2011 will not be eligible to join the state's retirement plan. It will be difficult to recruit and hire quality applicants. Developing our own system is time consuming and cost prohibitive.
7. No later than July 1, 2012, the Commissioner shall review the status of each school and determine whether or not to continue or revoke approval.
We the undersigned, are opposed to the proposed budget cuts to 4201 schools on the following grounds:
Schools for the Deaf may be forced to close, leaving deaf children isolated in school districts, without teachers and peers who can directly communicate with them.
Already financially devastated school districts would cut essential services required for deaf students out of necessity.
This proposal results in deaf students being assessed by people in their districts who cannot communicate directly with them. School districts often lack experience with deaf children and do not have appropriate tools to assess them.
This proposal violates Federal law that mandates a FREE APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION. ROCHESTER SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF serves many children who have needs that cannot be met APPROPRIATELY in their home school districts.
This proposal will result in the loss of a significant number of jobs across the state.
Governor Cuomo we thank you for taking the time to read this letter and we urge you to please amend this proposal NOW and allow the 4201 schools to work with you to come up with an alternative. 4201 schools want to be part of the solution!
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