School Stops 14-Year-Old Autistic Student From Questioning Treatment Citing Privacy Issues

Christian Ranieri said he wanted to be heard after he felt he was treated unfairly in class as a result of his autism.

Christian Ranieri, 14, attempted to speak at a board of education meeting in Northport Oct. 7, but was cut off by administrators who stated he would not be allowed to speak on the matter due to privacy laws.
Christian Ranieri, 14, attempted to speak at a board of education meeting in Northport Oct. 7, but was cut off by administrators who stated he would not be allowed to speak on the matter due to privacy laws.

The Northport-East Northport Board of Education cut off a 14-year-old boy from speaking during Monday’s meeting when the teen, who has a form of high-functioning autism, attempted to express what he felt was unfair treatment in his classroom due to his disability.

Christian Ranieri held back tears as he left the room after being shut down just a few sentences into his speech, in which he was asking the board to hear him out after he felt he was unfairly suspended for two days from school. 

The school board president cited privacy laws in his reasoning for halting Ranieri's speech. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects the privacy of student education records.


Ranieri, a freshman at Northport High School, explained that since the beginning of the school year, his individualized education program and behavior intervention plan have not been implemented. After four weeks without it, his parents called meetings with administrative staff members. When his behavior plan was put in place however, it was done incorrectly, Ranieri said, adding that he was refused when he asked to speak to his teacher outside of the classroom about the error. Out of frustration, he said that he raised his voice at the teacher and was suspended from school for two days for the outburst.

Since the incident was not written up in his mandated behavior sheet, and because privacy laws bar school staff members from discussing individual behavioral issues in public, it is unclear what took place that day from the teacher’s perspective.

After the incident last week, Ranieri said he felt discriminated against and that he didn’t want to be labeled as a trouble maker because of his autism – a part of him that he proudly wears on his sleeve as a youth ambassador for the New York State Self-Advocacy Association.

Ranieri explained at the board meeting that when he was a child, he couldn’t speak, but since he can now, he wants to use his voice to be his own advocate. 

“When I was five, I cried a lot and would throw myself on the floor when I got frustrated. I am proud to say that now I can speak clearly and to the best of my ability, try to deal with my frustration in words,” he said in his speech. 

“I feel like the decision made by the person at Northport High School to suspend me for two days was discriminatory on the part that I have autism and the fact that she thought what happened was not a result of my autism,” he continued, briefly stating that there was a problem with the implementation of his IEP and behavior plan, but omitting any individual names. 

That's as far as he got. After a minute into his speech, the board of education president stopped Ranieri, citing privacy laws.

“I understand what you’re saying. I just have to ask you to please understand that boards of education are unable to legally, both on the federal and state level, to discuss student disciplinary actions in public sessions so I would ask you to please be careful in what you’re saying. It is something the board cannot entertain in public session,” Stephen Waldenburg, board of education president, said. 

Ranieri continued his speech, pointing out that he was trying to stand up for himself, the way others, such as Rosa Parks did. However, after he asked the board for a different person to be put in charge of implementing his IEP, Waldenburg apologized for having to stop him from speaking and Ranieri was cut off again.

“This entire discussion which involves disciplinary action is totally improper for a public session,” Waldenburg said.

“Let him be heard!” residents shouted from their seats. 

Waldenburg said that the “proper audience” for the discussion would be the superintendent. However, the teen’s mother, Carina, said that when she attempted to speak with the superintendent at the school building, she was told that she would have to make an appointment and was asked to leave. Carina sent a letter asking for an appeal of the suspension, but had not received a response from the superintendent, she said.

Superintendent Marylou McDermott said that she and the administration are following the proper protocols.

“I have 10 days to respond in writing,” McDermott said, adding that the family would have to go through “several layers” before the superintendent level. “Now I have received your letter and your letter is under review. We are acting in accordance with the law and matters of student discipline, according to federal and state law, are not to be discussed or mentioned in public,” Superintendent of Schools Marylou McDermott said.

Mark Ranieri, the teen’s father, explained that his son was not looking to have a discussion, but wanted to present his speech to the board.

"I understand your situation, son," Waldenburg said to Ranieri. "But, you have to understand that we are legally limited in what we can discuss in a public session. You are not giving the superintendent an opportunity to discuss a private, personal matter, that should only be discussed not in public session." 

Ranieri said he worked on his speech for three hours.

“I feel rejected from being able to speak my mind to a group of people that I hoped would want to listen to me,” he said outside of the board meeting room after he was turned away.

After the incident in school, Renieri and his family created a Facebook page to document the teen’s journey of self-advocacy. So far, the page has garnered 220 fans and continues to grow. A video of Renieri's speech at the board meeting was also uploaded to YouTube where it has more than 1,500 views as of Tuesday evening.

The following is the full speech Renieri had prepared for the meeting, but was barred from reading:

My name is Christian Ranieri and I am a 9th Grader at Northport High School. You should know that I have a developmental disability called Autism.

I have come a long way in life as I could not talk in the beginning but now I am able to express my message to you in words. When I was 5 I cried a lot and would throw myself on the floor when I got frustrated. I am proud to say that now I can speak clearly and to the best of my ability try to deal with my frustration in words.

I feel like the decision made by the person at Northport High School to suspend me for 2 days was discriminatory on the part that I have Autism and the fact that she thought that what had happened was not a result of my Autism. This whole incident happened when I tried self-advocating for myself after my resource room teacher did not implement my IEP and Behavior Intervention Plan. The day before this alleged incident we had a meeting with my mom, my dad, my resource room teacher, the school psychologist, and my assistant principal. At this meeting I told them that my reward system had not been put in place and I had been in school for almost 1 month. Ever since the beginning of High school I have had to self-refer myself to the assistant principal's office because certain teachers would not allow me my accommodated seat on my IEP. In history there have been people who have had to fight for a seat. One that I know of and many of you might know of was named Rosa Parks. At that time, her civil rights did not afford her to sit in the front of a bus. As a result she was arrested for not giving up her seat.

In my case my civil rights give me the opportunity to have a special seat because of my developmental disability and yet I find myself having to fight for it. My parents have explained that you are the ones who decide who manages my IEP, my accommodations, and my behavior intervention plan. The person you chose to do this for me did not do her job and has accused me of intimidating her!

At the beginning of the school year I was excited to go to High School though my mom and dad were a bit nervous about how I would adjust and whether the staff would know how to handle me and my developmental disability. Every day I have a smile on my face because I am excited for a brand new day. Sometimes I can be hard to handle because my brain thinks differently but that does not mean I should be mistreated and dismissed by my teachers. Last May, I participated in my own meeting to describe what I needed to be a successful student at the High School and get my job done with the skills I have. Since then, the office of Developmental disabilities and its Self- Advocacy association has made me Youth Ambassador and has asked me to be a key note (sic) speaker in Albany at the end of October. It makes me very sad that I have come so far and now will have to talk about how my school does not support my plan to succeed. I have spent so much time outside of the classroom trying to explain my accommodations and my plan instead of in my class learning to pass my regents exams.

During the meeting with the person who suspended me, I explained how I tried to talk to the teacher appropriately. I even asked to come outside in the hallway so that I would not disrupt the other students in the classroom. The person who suspended me said she was not aware of that but did not seem to care about what I was saying. She did not seem to care about my IEP or my Behavior Intervention plan and the fact that some teachers were not implementing it. She told me and my parents that at Northport High School what it means to respect adults as my disorder makes it hard for me to understand this I have an intellectual and developmental disability that affects my social thinking. All of this is on my IEP. My parents are always trying to come up with plans for me so that I understand when I should and should not obey adults. Especially, if it can put me in danger. Would all of this be happening to a student with Autism that doesn't speak?

I feel that because I had to face many injustices, it is time for my voice to be heard. For example, in middle school one of my teachers did not let me use my netbook computer that is on my IEP for test corrections because he said that if I used it would be considered "cheating" so I spent over 2 days writing down the corrections even though I cannot really write well for a long period of time because of my issues, but if you give me my laptop I can get the job done! I want people to know that I deserve respect as much as they do. Not because I have a disability but because I am a human just like them.

After I was suspended I began to cry and my parents decided to go straight to the Superintendent's office to talk about our situation. We were told she was in a meeting and my parents and I said we would wait for it to be over in the hallway. After a little while, of sitting outside in the hallway, I told my Mom that I felt like we were at a Sit In. Since I love history, I know all about Sit Ins and how they were used as a protest method. A few minutes later, a security man came to us and asked us to leave. So we did. That was last Monday. Up until today she has never met with us.

I am asking you to investigate my situation and remove the suspension from my record as this suspension might ruin my future and I do not want to be seen as a trouble maker (sic). On Friday, during my resource room, one week after the alleged incident I saw the person who suspended me in the room talking with my teacher. I could not even look at her because I feel very angry about being suspended for self-advocating. How is it fair that I get punished and the teachers don't? Although my parents have told me that I must remain with the same resource room teacher until they can figure a way of getting me out of that classroom, I am here to ask you to please change my situation so I do not have to sit in a room with an adult who thinks that I intimidated her or that I am a trouble maker.

I met with a psychologist at my home and during our conversation I realized that people needed to hear my story and that is why I decided to do this.

The Self-Advocacy Association has taught me one very important thing and that is, "Nothing for me, without me." Thank you for listening to my story. 

*This article was originally posted Oct. 8 at 6:50 p.m. It has been updated since for clarification purposes.

Nicky Logan October 13, 2013 at 01:11 PM
perhaps newdawn should read up on autism spectrum disorder before commenting as you sound very uneducated on it....... they are not being taught its ok to do bad things like throw a chair etc as you put it, they are taught to try and manage there asd to notic there trigger, to aknowledege when they need the help, there iep or additional supports needs at school is a crucial part in there learning and education, it is there to not only help the child but the teaching staff also, we are talking about kids who think diffrently , who see everything in logical ways, who struggle to determin body language, facial expresion, a simple thing we take for granted each and every day, not only do there brains work twice as hard just to focus on work, to try and block out the brightness of light, the sound of the other children, a sneeze, a scrape of a chair, things we all as people without out ASD do with no effort..... sences of an ASD person are far diffrent some feel pain less or more,tempreture can either be dulled or heighted for them, there hearing is amazing , some even have hyperacusis, not to mention you have the sensory overload or possibly not receiveing enough sensory input..... the worl of ASD is a massive scale with many many layers, if you meet one person with asd then you have only met one person with there ASD as not all are the same, if anything i would rather my child in a classroom with any ASD child than to be in a classroom with children brought up in ignorance as that is a far worse disability to have......... if your rights were not being met would you stand up and say something or just sit back and be walked all over.... its is there job to implement all in the iep, he was simply asking for his right to be met , for there job to be done properly and not ignore the fact he was needing help, he was clearly noticeing his trigers in the first place , clearly asking to be listend to , in order to prevent himself looking like a mere trouble maker....... so please before anyone starts with the there being taught its ok to be naughty etc read up on it , better still spend some time with someone with ASD and think before you open your mouth , they truely are great people to be around, and extremely clever and bright.....
Hasyayoga October 13, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Side note: I want to add that Manifestation determinations are only required if a school is implementing a removal that constitutes a “change of placement.” Key word here is required. If the Principal was advocating for this child so that he may receive FAPE, he is not required to request a manifestation hearing on the student’s behalf, but he should have due to the nature of the child’s disability even though the suspension was only 2 days and apparently Christian had no prior incidents. If he had gone home for prior incidents culminating in 10 days or more than a manifestation hearing would absolutely have been required for it would have been considered change of placement. To suspend him for two days for allegedly raising his voice is absurd and discriminatory. As far as the district’s “letter” to the public, I do not think it violates FERPA, but it comes pretty darn close to it. Its wording is questionable. The Family can contact: Family Policy Compliance Office,U.S. Department of Education,400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202-8520 to receive guidance regarding a FERPA Violation. FERPA allows schools to disclose those “records”, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31): “School officials with legitimate educational interest.” But, Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information. I am guessing they have the right to have a letter also posted for public knowledge regarding what they believed happened.
Emily Pierce October 13, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Hi Hasyayoga, Wow, so eloquently spoken and right on. Christian really needs someone like yourself on his side. You are absolutely correct about the Department of Education/ Civil Rights because, unfortunately, I am going through something right now, but I am in the college level and I had to get them involved. They are wonderful and if there is something to be investigated they will investigate it. I would advise contacting them in fact if Mr. or Mrs Ranieri sees this post or there is a friend that sees it and know them I have the phone number to the mediator. I don't want to post it online and put their information on a public forum. They can be contacted and Christians family could get quicker assistance possibly on how to file the complaint. I normally would never give out their information but this is an extreme circumstance. I'm sure I speak for many of us when I say we are here for you Christian and Mr. and Mrs. Ranieri. :)
jon October 13, 2013 at 04:57 PM
As a former student at northport high school I have seen my fare share of "scandals" and controversial issues and as a student who had an IEP and was in resource I must say the special ed department and the administration are narrow minded individual's who actually don't care about the student and there education I have since graduated with with numerous awards as recognitions along with making eagle in Boy Scouts people with disabilities are no different but because we aren't honor student the school can care less about you your just a number to them as a freshman going into high school there was the mix of emotions I walked to my first class Spanish than my next math than my third class was resource room where I had encountered probably the two worst teacher ever mind you it was only 3rd period on day 1 me as a good student steered clear of them avoiding trouble but the teach who most likely suspended your son mr and mrs. Ranieri went Ahead called me a retard and what can I do to defend my self with out being suspended I bit my tung and went home and told my parents the called the school and spoke to an assistant principal who played it down and never reprimanded the teacher, that teacher had never even apologized to me and because I went and told the administration se was sour to me for the rest of the year telling my future IEP push in teachers I was "bad student" and " disrespectful " I learned Thea's thing were said about me at the end of my senior year but the IEP teachers i had after 9th grade couldn't say enough nice things about me in 10th grad I advocated for my self saying I didn't feel the need for a resource room because I was doing fine and although I had gotten angry at that teacher and spoke my mind I was served with a detention far less worse than Christian and I had said a lot worse words in the end I give Christian a lot of credit for doing what he thought was right and the boy is right and the school is wrong keep fighting take it from someone whose been though it
timothy October 13, 2013 at 06:21 PM
Says who, Kai? You make the rules?
timothy October 13, 2013 at 06:25 PM
Jean Hayes, very well stated! Teachers should NOT be expected to have to be scared of these potential threats. We keep dumping the problems off on everybody....they need care....but that is NOT everybody's responsibility or we all would be living in fear. Some people do expect that just because they want everyone to feel the sadness they experience, but that is not fair.
timothy October 13, 2013 at 06:29 PM
Bridget, that is naïve. They are not just bringing down the gifted students....they generally bring down the entire class....and in my opinion that is exactly why ASLL American education is falling behind the rest of the world. Other countries do NOT cater to the problem children by dumping them into the regular system, they separate them and give them the help they need without subjecting them to EVERYONE else. That is why their educational systems are beating the USA. It may be too late because too many are holding your same opinion. God help us all.
timothy October 13, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Wait a second here. Retarded is slang? Retarded is the equivalent to "nigger"? Oh come on now. Kids still use this term and the bureaucrats can make all the "rules" they want but there is no such thing as the Dictionary Police unless we were under Hitler's rule. But we are not! Kids will keep using the term.....now of course kids should be taught to not use the term incorrectly but some of you out there cannot understand what it means to raise kids properly, my kids may use the term, but never with any disrespect or bullying. there is a huge difference but some of you put it all in the same category. So those of you holding that opinion, go ahead and hold your Nazi parties.
gratefulmom44 October 13, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Newdawn, while I do agree that it is illegal for the BOE to discuss disciplinary matters in a public forum I disagree that a BOE meeting is not the proper forum for him to discuss issues he is dealing with in a school they represent. Especially since he did not mention any names. I’m not sure what your background is but I’m fairly confident when I say that you seem to be bias against kids with autism. In one post you refer to him as autistic, he is a boy who happens to have a disability called autism. Then you say threatening outburst, where did you here that or was it your assumption? Then you say he should be isolated, another opinion? You call him misguided, disruptive and threatening, you also mention things like throwing chairs and stabbing and the law, all of which are fabrications of your mind. So my reply to you is I think you are the one missing the point here. This child had a civil right to be heard at a BOE meeting. If you would like to talk about who is wrong here lets talk about the letter up on the district website signed by the superintendent and BOE Pres. It’s a matter of public record who speaks at what meetings, so by them stating them stating the meeting date and circumstance they have in-fact identified the child, but I guess i’ll leave that to the courts to decide how clear of a FERPA violation that is. Oh and the parents had a team meeting before this event in which it was discussed that the reward system in the BIP had not been implemented correctly which is a violation of the law, but I guess a due process hearing could better explore that. So I guess there is a lot of this you don’t understand.
Hasyayoga October 13, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Timothy, just an FYI- "my kids may use the term, but never with any disrespect or bullying". If your children are in a public school using the term "retard" with regard to a student with any disability or is differently abled please be aware there is a new law in place that prohibits that language towards another student. The DASA or Dignity for all Students Act http://www.p12.nysed.gov/dignityact/ is a law that all schools in NYS must have Codes of Conduct in accordance with the amended Dignity Act. If a student violates another's rights under this law it is they who will be subject to suspension or whatever the DASA coordinator of that school deems appropriate. As far as Nazi parties, that in itself is just crude and crass. However, I believe your statement "God help us all" is accurate when a young child with a disability has their Civil Rights violated.
Irishdave October 14, 2013 at 12:12 AM
I have a couple of family members who are in Administration, not Npt district. I had them look at the article and they said that the district may have failed in the application of the IEP or 504. BUT the forum for discussing the discipline or the implementation of an IEP or 504 Plan is not an open Board Meeting, An Executive Session of the Board of Education would be proper forum, and this very uniform over the whole country, an Executive Session protects ALL parties. Christian Ranieri's parents should have made an appointment not "We will wait for her (McDermott)" Much like a chain of command. If you don't get satisfaction you go to the next level. It seems that Christian Ranieri's parents skipped some steps. I still think we have not heard both sides. And I say his parents because Christian Ranieri is a minor so his parents must make the legal arrangements for him, unless NY has changed the age of Emancipation.
A Taxpayer October 14, 2013 at 12:26 AM
Irishdave, in 30+ years in education, I have never heard of parents speaking to the BOE in executive session about something like this. It isn't done that way. What you are missing is that Mr. Ranieri did not ask to have a discussion about his situation. He merely wanted to make a statement at a public forum, which is his right under the US Constitution. He asked for no reply from anyone. He was not asking questions. The very definition of the word discussion is that it must involve two or more people. This is why Mr. Waldenburg is wrong on the law. The law prohibits the board from discussing the student, not the student from speaking about himself. Mr. Ranieri's mother is a former president of the Special Education PTA. If anyone knows the law and the "steps" it is her.
timothy October 14, 2013 at 01:17 AM
They wrote a law that essentially prohibits freedom of expression. Good for new york. People fought and died in wars to protect such freedoms and twerpie little pompous ahole legislators sit there and pass laws that will likely be shot down in a Federal court. What a wasted piece of legislation. Shall I go on to say those New York legislators are retarded? Or will that put me in a New York prison?
Irishdave October 14, 2013 at 06:02 AM
A Taxpayer, in my 35 years in education I have seen it many times. By default saying anything at a board meeting is a discussion, one sided but still a discussion. What should be done is the parents should find the services of an advocate (paid or pro bono) and approach the school district in a sane, civil and timely manor. After all it should be a team effort. THe school, the parents AND the student need to work together. Pointing fingers does not accomplish much except anger people and create hostility, just look at this forum. Open Meetings law does not say someone must be heard only that everyone is treated alike and It is up the : "The Law is silent with respect to public participation. While it has been advised that a public body does not have to allow the public to speak, many choose to permit public participation. In those instances, it has been advised that a public body must treat all persons in a like manner. For instance, the public body can adopt reasonable rules to ensure fairness; i.e., allowing those who want to speak a specific period of time to express their views." (http://www.dos.ny.gov/coog/openmeetinglawfaq.html)
Hasyayoga October 14, 2013 at 09:06 AM
To Irish Dave- you have great points; however, I believe the Exec Session of the BOE has the district’s legal counsel present. The Ranieri’s cannot bring their legal counsel to Exec Session. They would have to go to mediation or invoke their Due Process Rights. (Most attorney’s run about $400 per hour.) Average cost for Due Process is about 15k. And that is if it is settled quickly. There is minimal recourse for reimbursement to the family for legal expenses if they “win”. During that time, (months) the student is held in a holding pattern or pendency. Or the parents may place the student in a private school and seek tuition reimbursement. If this takes years to settle- basically the Ranieri’s would most likely lose all they have. This process comes with great financial and emotional price tags. Most families in this situation have a divorce rate of 80%. With all due respect, waiting for Mrs. McDermott to decide over a ten day period what her legal options are is not why the citizens of that community hired her. Also, a public body does not have to allow the public to speak- But they must have a written policy to determine the parameters of those who do speak. If not, then that public body will not be able to treat all persons in a like manner. And to Timothy- Freedom of Expression? Freedom of “Expression” has boundaries. That is why someone cannot stand in front of your home, in the street, on public property, with a huge sign that reads “twerpie little pompous _________ lives here”. Get it?
A Taxpayer October 14, 2013 at 09:19 AM
1. Decades pass without parents being brought into executive sessions. Not sure if it happens in Northport, but I highly doubt it. In three surrounding districts it has never happened. I will pin this down in Northport later today. 2. While public commentary at meetings is not required, should it be allotted, then it must follow all legalities. A speaker cannot be cut off just because the board doesn't like what he has to say. 3. Fairness? Was it fair that Mr. Waldenburg went out of his way to remind Mr. Ranieri that he had five minutes to speak and then allow the next speaker 15 minutes to ramble on about consolidating school districts? 4. You are wrong about what constitutes a "discussion." In fact, most school boards specifically tell speakers that public commentary is not a "discussion." It is not a question and answer period. All of these terms are defined in the law. 5. As an American citizen, Mr. Ranieri was free to go to the microphone and complain about his treatment at the hands of a government that compels him to attend school. Sad that you disagree with this. I believe you are wrong.
cathie josephson October 14, 2013 at 09:35 AM
I have been trying not to respond anymore to this forum as I get so aggravated reading some ignorant posts. First thing that keeps being said is the discussion piece . It was not a discussion! He just tried to say something in the public forum section of the meeting, as it is allowed all the time, I have sat at BOE meetings and heard parents, students and people speak, they shut down the people that are saying something they don't want to hear or have the public hear. Happens all the time. It has happened it me! They let some people speak and I will add for way more than 5 mns (which is suppose to be there limit) . They in fact did so to someone else that same night" like I said before it's their way or the highway. They don't want people at BOE mtgs so they can do what they want, get away with what they want. This board/administration kicked my daughter out of this district not for behavioral issues but she is physically disabled and they did not want to deal with her or put the effort into the teaching or making appropriate accommodations for her. There are so many violations with handicapped access in our schools. When brought up over and over they made excuses. So get the kids out of the district that have physical disabilities and they wouldn't have to follow the law and make sure they had working accommodations! I got sidetracked, my point is the board didn't care, and my daughter (along with several other students with physical disabilities) was kicked out and forced to go to a out of district school. Have your perfect kid, perfect athlete, and they will not only let you talk they invite you to talk and take your picture with big smiles. Invite Christian or a special needs kid to speak and take their picture.! That will never happen. I was on the SEPTA board for years and a president in the board we tried for a very long time to present At a BOE mtg to help educate them and the public about our kids and their needs, accomplishments, we were never invited. And it the people that want to continue to use the word "retard" go ahead you are the one that sounds ignorant when you use it and someone else pointed out, Shane on your parents for bringing you up that way to think it is ok. Enjoy your perfect world - but know what goes around comes around . Your perfect life can't possible be that perfect.
gratefulmom44 October 14, 2013 at 11:06 AM
Timothy, your the one who seems to be ignorant of the education system as a whole. While I don’t believe that special education students bring the entire class down, I do believe that some may be in incorrect placements but that usually comes because the school district doesn’t want to allocate their resources in order to offer what each student needs, which leads to IEP violations etc. Now your opinion on why the USA is falling behind other countries and that other countries remove them from the mix is totally off. Lets look at Finland and So. Korea who rank number 1&2 in education. They use very different approaches however both country has a social belief that education is highly valued and teachers have higher social status. They only take teachers who graduate at the top of their class. In Finland kids have more days then us but shorter ones and not a lot of homework. But the schools are ran with a “whatever it takes” attitude. Children are not socially moved they are academically moved. A teacher may stay with a group of students for 3 to 6 years, he knows them well, and works with their strengths to develop their weaknesses. Finland’s education system is designed to help children understand and APPLY knowledge. Oh and 30% of there kids get special help (and in the HS level almost none) The remediate and move on. In Korea, it is rote and tests (like Common Core) but they attend school 220 days a year and longer days. Parents pay 25% of there income on education. Only 30% of learning comes from school. most learning comes from supplementary materials and tutors. Technology plays a huge part as there are home learning systems that facilitate self directed learning. So stop blaming special education students for the failures of our education system. They have nothing to do with it. We all scream about our taxes, but we don’t put in proper plans for remediation like Finland, and we don’t want to do 3hrs of common core HW like Japan, education costs not just money but the value we place on it. Oh and btw if not for the law I would join hasyayoga with that sign. Ignorance is not bliss, educate yourself.
Irishdave October 15, 2013 at 08:50 AM
Math being my second major I taught Math for a few years along with my main subject I did find that I could not go faster than my slowest student and 99% of the time that slowest student was NOT Special Ed (well not designated Special Ed) and Many times I would get a special Ed aid. part of our failing education system is too many non-educators trying to run things. Many times the solution was throw money at it or turn the learning inside out. A student should have two experts on his/her team the parent (the expert on the child) and the teacher (the expert on teaching the child) they need to work together.
Sir Ahaz October 15, 2013 at 09:28 AM
I am not sure that all schools are a perfect fit for every child with a special need , and therefore the district may find it beneficial to send the child to a learning place that is a better suit.. In the past the district has done that and paid for living arrangements for the family to live in that other locale .. This does not just happen because the district say's so, much more is involved. I see that many of you keep shooting down the school board, but the board is comprised of many members of the district including some who have special needs family members. I feel that this district is a good supporter of this program. I feel that we have gotten away from the key point here with all of the postings and that is "Rules" . There are rules in the classroom and rules in the boardroom, both need to be followed.....
Hasyayoga October 16, 2013 at 06:46 AM
I am sorry, I just can't help myself...I have never heard of a district paying for living arrangements for a family to live in another locale so a child can attend a learning environment that is better suited! If that did happen, there were many attorneys involved and it was a huge law suit that was settled in that manner. As far as "Rules"- I couldn't agree more, they should be followed, but written policies need to be provided that state those rules and then they are upheld accordingly.
B Lyon October 16, 2013 at 07:50 AM
No, I don't find it odd at all. There is this minor litigation matter with LIPA, of which the deadline is 10/20, the day before the regularly scheduled 10/21 BOE mtg. Since the meeting is about a pending lawsuit, the session must be private.
CommackHack October 16, 2013 at 09:42 AM
Hasyayoga> Commack School District does, and will, accept students with disabilities from other districts. In fact, it is part of their publically stated education model. Parents do not pay. The funds come from Federal and State - and maybe your school. They have students coming in from all parts of the island as far away as Levittown. I know this is not the main point of the article or comments, but students and patents DO have this option should they choose. As far as the student's right to right to excersize his first amendment rights. As long as he was given the floor to speak, shutting him down was a clear violation. School Boards do have options available that can prohibit the public from speaking, but once the person is recognized then they forfeit the right to shut down the conversation, unless there was a clear time limit stated before the individual is given the floor. Additionally, the only time a discussion can be shut down is when a student(s)'s name is about to be made public. In this case, the student waived his right to privacy by taking the floor. The BOE was wrong. Please refer to the NYS School Board Association website. There is a section that explains in detail what the guidelines are. If everyone is dissatisfied with the BOE's actions or methods, you do have a choice - VOTE them out when their terms expire. Unfortunately, I feel, there is a lawsuit in the making here. This will most likely result in dollars being spent to fight and ultimately lose the legal battle. Of course, we (taxpayers) will be the ones who pay. This issue has damaged the reputation of the BOE, Superintendent and the District. Honestly, if I were a parent moving into this area, I would think twice about Northport as a choice. This was not the case, 22 years ago when we moved here. All three of my children graduated, completed college and graduate schools. Until now, I was proud of our district. To Mr. Raneri, I am so very sorry your experience exposed the flaws in the way the BOE chooses to run our district. We are a community that has pride in the quality of our educational system. The BOE's actions has underscored my belief that the school district has become institutionalized, where CYA (cover your a*s) is a byproduct of their failures.
Hasyayoga October 16, 2013 at 12:19 PM
CommackHack> Yes, many districts cross contract as does Commack. Accepting students with disabilities from other districts is a common practice as long as the placement is appropriate and the CSE (which includes the parents- agree). It then is approved through the BOEs, etc. Funding comes from a variety of sources as you stated, Fed, State, Taxes, etc. Commack School District does, and will, accept students with disabilities from other districts. However, students and parents DO NOT have this option should “they choose.” Parents of these students must show that their districts cannot provide the correct learning environment for that student and then it goes from there. Parents have the option to inquire and provide written request for the CSE to convene and agree to look at other learning environments, but parents do not get to choose. I know I am over simplifying this process- but I just wanted the community to know the Ranieri’s are not getting to pick and choose the school of their choice…until now maybe…
CommackHack October 16, 2013 at 02:33 PM
Hasyayoga>You're absolutely correct (on paper and mandated guidelines). However, the process gets simplified when there is a breach of trust or faith (when the system is broken). Then, everyone agrees this option is the best available. One still must excersize due diligence and while I did use Commack as an example, there are other districts that are available (Cold Spring Harbor and Jericho). Most important, to the parents and student. If the student was my child, I would use everything available to insure that this issue never occurred again. Including suing the dickens out of the BOE, the members - including executive committee, the Superintendent and the Asst. Superintendent of Special Ed. (Bear in mind, the teacher is not at fault - too often we slam the teacher, who is overwhelmed by new and changing curriculum, not trained as a special needs teacher, and who most likely spends evenings and weekends creating plans, correcting paperwork and determining how best to teach to each individual in a class size that is now over 24+ students per class). I know this sounds like a 'nuclear option' and it is. But, if you want change, you must hit all the bases. Thanks to Mr. Raneri, the District has been exposed as "the emperor without clothes." Additionally, the student(s)'s families do not have to move. Transportation is included on the package. Again, my apologies to this young man and his family. As a voting taxpayer in the district, I am just as responsible for this error as the BOE and administration. I WILL pay more attention from now on.
Hasyayoga October 16, 2013 at 06:54 PM
Well said my friend.
Blork October 22, 2013 at 08:10 AM
Stay out of Hauppauge and Jericho. They have a policy of calling CPS to intimidate and silence parents who aggressively. advocate for their special-needs kids. I know first-hand
Peter Attwood November 15, 2013 at 10:31 PM
It's truly outrageous for Waldenburg to say that Ranieri can't petition the board for redress of grievances. Nothing says that he can't mention the names of those whom he thinks wronged him - that's what is meant by "abridging" his right to petition. That this arrogant little man should talk about obeying state and federal law while flagrantly violating his constitutional right to petition for redress of grievances is really too ridiculous. State law is different in New York, but this California federal district court decision should be helpful reading for all involved: http://www.leagle.com/decision/19961655936FSupp719_11557 Perhaps Waldenburg will face a damage claim under 42 USC Section 1983. I hope so.
Peter Attwood November 15, 2013 at 10:37 PM
Another thing. FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, concerns only records, not speech. Moreover, it holds agencies responsible to maintain the confidentiality of records; it imposes no such requirement on students or parents. Not only does FERPA in no way affect the right to speak, it has nothing to say if the family wants to post his IEP or a tape of the meeting on the internet - as in fact I have done myself. When Waldenburg drags FERPA into this, he's just lying. He can't be that stupid.
bill celona November 16, 2013 at 02:46 PM
With a daughter with special needs this hits home with me and my wife i believe this child has the right to petition the board and be heard and have his rights protected.Its hard enough for children with learning disabilities to feel like they belong in a classroom environment the Board of education needs to make sure such occurrences as this one does not happen and this needs to be addressed now. The childrens rights needs to be protected and above all has every right to be heard.


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