“Special.”

What is it about the Sandy Hook Elementary School and special education?

Cinderella sees no reason to mince words on this subject. After Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung began her short term as principal of the school, Sandy Hook Elementary became increasingly “special” in the teachers it hired and the classrooms it harbored. Why?

Was there a larger percentage of needy learners among Sandy Hook students than among peers in other Newtown elementary schools?

Were they slower readers, slower speakers, more intellectually or behaviorally challenged? Were they more likely to need physical therapy and psychological services?

If so, why should this be the case? And, if this was the case, what were the financial and other implications?

Shot of Sandy Hook Canopy

Location questions are still valid. The above questions do not invalidate other inquiries regarding the location of the Sandy Hook Elementary school over the relevant time periods. As we have seen in previous posts, a replica of a school can be created  when wherewithal is no barrier.

Rather, the questions above are intended to further that inquiry and determine why Sandy Hook Elementary had special characteristics that might have a bearing on 12-14-12.

These are legitimate questions that can’t be answered without first examining the special transition that began in 2010, when Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung first entered the school’s dingy corridors.

 

Let’s begin with Mrs. Hochsprung/Ms. Lafferty herself. She came to the school with 12 years of administrative background in other systems: Woodbury, Bethlehem and Danbury. Previously, she had earned special qualifications: a bachelor’s degree in Special Ed from Central Connecticut State University in 1993; a master’s in Special Ed from Southern Connecticut State University in 1997 and a sixth-year degree from Southern in 1998. See this article.

So Ms. Lafferty was well-qualified to spur a trend toward special education at Sandy Hook Elementary. And this appears to be what happened. By August 28, 2012, here is how she described her special “intervention team”:

  • “Our intervention team is returning as well. Reading teachers are Diane Dennis, Laura Feinstein, Meg Horn, and Sandy Zuccarello. Special education teachers are Kelly MacLaren, Kerri Sommer, and Laura Esposito (formerly Miss Swanson). We also welcome Lola Aldrich to the team this year. Support services are provided by psychologist Mary Sherlach and speech language pathologists Connie Malgrande and Whitney Dunbar. We will also work closely with district occupational and physical therapists.
  • We welcome two preschool classes to Sandy Hook this year. Teachers will be Janet Walker and Eileen Cullen. Speech language pathologist Judy Silverlight will also join that team.”

Cinderella has included the bullet item on the new preschool classes above as well, as it raises other relevant and related questions.

Transitioning corridors. Let’s take a peek at how Ms. Lafferty’s team played out via classroom assignments in just two main corridors of the school – the northeast and the eastern – over a three-year period. This will tell us how much more special Sandy Hook Elementary became during Ms. Lafferty’s short term.

I have used the following resources to reconstruct the classroom assignment lists that follow:

  • 2010-2011 Classroom Assignments: Utilization map here. (See page 24.)
  • 2011-2012 Classroom Assignments: Utilization map here.
  • 2012-2013 Classroom Assignments: August 28, 2012 Newsletter and a source I cannot disclose (wishes to remain anonymous).

1. Northeast Corridor (moving from west to east, then back up the corridor going west again)

2010-2011

  • Room 12:  Roig (1st grade)
  • Room 10: Fressola (2nd grade)
  • Room 8: D’Amato (1st grade)
  • Room 6: Mackenzie (2nd grade)
  • Room 4: Soto (1st grade)
  • Room 2: Young (Special Ed)
  • Room 3: MacLeran (Special Ed)
  • Room 5: Walker (2nd grade)
  • Room 7: Wexler (1st grade)
  • Conference Room/Closet
  • Office: Hochsprung

2011-2012

  • Room 12:  Roig (1st grade)
  • Room 10: Soto (1st grade)
  • Room 8: D’Amato (1st grade)
  • Room 6: Mackenzie (2nd grade)
  • Room 4: Murray/Day (PT/OT) — Physical and Occupational Therapy
  • Room 2: Young/Malgrande (Special Ed; also Malgrande is identified as a “speech language pathologist” by Ms. Lafferty)
  • Room 3: MacLeran (Special Ed)
  • Room 5: Walker (2nd grade)
  • Room 7: Wexler (2nd grade)
  • Conference Room/Closet
  • Office: Hochsprung

2012-2013

  • Room 12:  Roig (1st grade)
  • Room 10: Soto (1st grade)
  • Room 8: D’Amato (1st grade)*
  • Room 6: Sommer/Esposito (formerly Swanson) (Special Ed)
  • Room 4: Murray/Day (PT/OT)— Physical and Occupational Therapy
  • Room 2: Young**/Malgrande (Special Ed/Speech Language Pathology)
  • Room 3: MacLeran/Lamass (Special Ed)
  • Room 5: Taylor (2nd grade)
  • Room 7: Wexler (2nd grade)
  • Conference Room/Closet
  • Office: Hochsprung

*On 12-14-12, two teachers were in Room 8 in place of Amanda D’Amato: Lauren Rousseau and Rachel D’Avino, who was a behavioral therapist.

** There is some uncertainty about whether Marianne Young returned to Sandy Hook Elementary during the 2012-13 year, but since she is not mentioned in Ms. Lafferty’s list as having left, Cinderella has left her in Room 2, where she taught the previous year with Connie Malgrande.

2. Eastern Corridor (moving from south to north then returning back south again)

2010-2011

  • Room 46: Buckley (4th grade)
  • Room 48: Dunbar (Sp. Lang.)
  • Room 50: Kazlauskas (1st grade)
  • Room 52: Monahan (1st grade)
  • Room 54: Vollmer (Kinder)
  • Room 56: Dievert (Kinder)
  • Room 1: Perry (Kinder)
  • Room 53: Sommer/Swanson (Special Ed)
  • Room 57: Gunn (Art)
  • Room 49: (Computer Lab)
  • Girls’ Room

2011-2012

  • Room 46: Varga (4th grade)
  • Room 48: Dunbar (Sp. Lang.)
  • Room 50: Kazlauskas (1st grade)
  • Room 52: Monahan (1st grade)
  • Room 54: Vollmer (Kinder)
  • Room 56: Dievert (Kinder)
  • Room 1: Perry (Kinder)
  • Room 53: Sommer/Swanson (Special Ed)
  • Room 57: Gunn (Art)
  • Room 49: (Computer Lab)
  • Girls’ Room

2012-2013

  • Room 46: Varga (4th grade)
  • Room 48: Dunbar (Sp. Lang.) (identified as a “Language Pathologist” by Ms. Lafferty)
  • Room 50: Kazlauskas (1st grade)
  • Room 52: Monahan (1st grade)
  • Room 54: Vollmer (Kinder)
  • Room 56: Janet Walker & Eileen Cullen (Preschool) with Judy Silverlight (Speech Pathologist)
  • Room 1: Perry (Kinder)*
  • Room 53: ?? Other preschool classroom?
  • Room 57: Gunn (Art)
  • Room 49: (Computer Lab)
  • Girls’ Room

Ugly wall

Simple arithmetic. Here’s how it adds up:

  • Northeast Corridor
    • In 2010, the Northeast Corridor was devoting 2 rooms to special/intervention education, with 2 special /intervention teachers.
    • By 2012, the same corridor was devoting 4 rooms to special/intervention education with 8 special/intervention teachers.
  • Eastern Corridor
    • In 2010, the Eastern Corridor was devoting 1 room to special/intervention education, with 2 special /intervention teachers.
    • By 2012, the same corridor was devoting 2 rooms to special/intervention education with 2 special/intervention teachers.

In other words, the spatial and professional investment in special needs education had more than doubled in three years just within these two corridors of Sandy Hook Elementary.

That’s impressive, but there’s more. Ms. Lafferty spun off a list of reading intervention teachers in her August 2012 newsletter, including Diane Dennis, Laura Feinstein, Meg Horn, and Sandy Zuccarello. While these are all familiar names from previous years (although, in 2010-11, Meg Horn had taught 4th grade in Room #62 in the modular wing, not special reading), they add to our number of special/intervention teachers.

And Ms. Lafferty tells us that one more special teacher had been recruited: Lola Aldrich. Giving us a grand total of 15 special/intervention teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012-13. Up from only 7 (if you don’t count Meg Horn) in 2010-11. One could call that a significant transition.

And a preschool, too. Let’s not forget the introduction of a preschool in Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, said (by my source) to be situated in Room #56. Judy Silverlight, a speech pathologist who has since retired, was assigned to the new class. Was this to be a special education preschool? It isn’t clear.

It isn’t clear why a preschool was needed at Sandy Hook Elementary at all, since a very well-established one was/is available practically in the backyard of the school: Children’s Adventure Center  at 14 Riverside Road in Sandy Hook, founded in 1969. But perhaps this preschool lacked qualified special education teachers.

One thing is clear: special abilities will be catered to at the preschool in the new Sandy Hook Elementary School, slated to open this fall, as this letter to parents attests:

“This program offers quality educational services to children who have disabilities and to typically developing peers, also referred to as “Play Partners.” In addition to receiving instruction according to the preschool curriculum, Play Partners provide role modeling to students with special needs. For the 2016-2017 school year, this program is available at a rate of $2000 for a ½ day four-day program.”
 Ugly floorA nagging question. Considering that  Newtown elementary schools open their doors at 9:05 a.m., it seems reasonable to expect that Sandy Hook’s preschool did, too, even on 12-14-12. But if it did – and if the scruffy-looking school was indeed functioning as we have been told in the official story – then where were the little toddlers on that morning?

Perhaps they were there, but Cinderella can’t remember reading anything about them. More to the point, we didn’t see anything about them, as in watching histrionics about them on TV. Imagine mainstream media outlets passing up the opportunity to interview the parents of mere babies traumatized by the event. Imagine them purposely missing out on ratings that twisting the hearts and minds of a willing audience would have brought them.

The problem is, of course, that Cinderella can’t imagine it. Tele-venality being the rule, there would not have been an exception on such a prime occasion.

Perhaps the toddlers weren’t there that day – for strategic reasons.

Who benefits from school planning that favors special needs education? Special needs children, ostensibly. Special education teachers, obviously.  Taxpayers, definitely not. Who is the true beneficiary? Well, you tell me. Here is a site to get you started.

Other reasons. Are there other reasons, besides actual student needs and financial benefits, for schools to favor special needs children over what Newtown schools call “typically developing” schoolchildren? That is the more difficult and, perhaps, more pressing question. Are special needs children more suggestible? More vulnerable? Less likely to question or more likely to fall in line with certain rigid parameters? Easier to move toward compromising situations, such as mental health facilities or, even, prison? Easier to convince that they need government assistance? Easier to train into a state of mindless and helpless obedience?

These are questions, not just for specialists, but for all of us to ponder.

 

Advertisements

2 thoughts on ““Special.”

  1. “if the scruffy-looking school was indeed functioning as we have been told in the official story – then where were the little toddlers on that morning?”

    Good question, Cinderella. Seeing the photos in this post of the dirty Sandy Hook Elementary School, once again reminds me how incredible the official story is that it was actually a functioning school on Dec. 14, 2012, instead of one that had been closed since 2008.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. Dr. Eowyn, you have to be an intellectually challenged person to believe the bunkum in the Sandy Hook official reports. A dumbed-down population is good for business as usual.

      Like

Comments are closed.