To grasp an understanding of where the District is with LASEC today, one must go back to the origin of the issues.
The matter started with the issuance of a report during the 2016-2017 School Year as to the status of Enger School as an educational institution which is run by Leyden Area Special CoOp (LASEC). That report was shocking as to the status of the educational and special education programing at Enger School; and the lack of quality special education services and programing. See this link to review the report : Enger School Review Executive Summary Mannheim School District 83 2017 .
I wrote about this in December, 2017, see the link :
What raises a grave concern is that this review was actually written by “friends” of the Superintendents of the CoOp and the administrative leadership of LASEC. The lead reviewer, was Dr. Judy Hackett, who is also the current superintendent of Northwest Suburban Special Education CoOp (NSSEO) and who is operating under the company name of TJ Consultants , clearly to mask her identity . The review was conducted by a member of the “Club” and revealed a poorly focused and managed educational environment. What the review failed to disclose was that Enger has been a “revolving door” in reference to principals, teachers and staff.
Clearly, a truly independent review would have revealed much more serious deficiencies at Enger. But considering that this review was conducted by a “buddy” and reveals critical deficiencies, everyone should be quite concerned.
A number of governmental research groups have noted that Dr. Judy Hackett is one of the top ten highest paid superintendents in Illinois, earning in excess of $300,000 per year ; yet at the same time running several private consulting groups and companies where she has billed other Districts for program reviews, such as LASEC and Glen Ellyn SD 89 (where she billed $20,000 for the program review).
What is more astounding is that Dr. Judy Hackett has been operating her consulting practice using her email address at NSSEO as well as conducting her private practice on NSSEO time. This has been substantiated by Freedom of Information Requests (FOIA) to both NSSEO as well as LASEC.
Issues related to Dr. Judy Hackett and TJ Consultants I will explore in future blog postings. These issues depict the heart of the problems that are growing in Special Education. The “so called” special education experts are all about the money and not about the needs of the special education children which are a population at risk.
The real heroes in all of this are the leaders of Norridge SD 80, Dr. O’Malley, Srbo Radisavljevic, Board President and the School Board members of Norridge SD 80. They have struck a chord to improve special education services not only at SD 80 but also for the entire region, at the same time of pursuing the best use of taxpayer funds.
Once they became aware of the deficiencies they first tried to work within the system to rectify the matter, upon finding that the LASEC apparatus was resistant to improvement they elected to should the responsibility of establishing their own credible special education program. This required a withdrawl from LASEC, for which the establishment has attempted to obstruct at every step of the way.
Time and time again it is clear this is about the “money”, maintaining status quo as a comfort zone for the Leyden and Norwood Park Superintendents , and jobs; all at the taxpayers’ expense and not for the good of the special education students.
Sadly some parents have not understood the enormity of the issues and want their children to remain at Enger until they complete grammar school. In many instances they have not separated the school “is being nice to the student” from whether they are receiving the services and education that they deserve. Norridge SD 80 has to consider the long range needs of their students, not just 7 current students; but recognizing that these concerns of the parents need to be addressed, Norridge SD 80 leadership have diligently pursued the “grandfathering” of these students at Enger School as an alternative.
The NSD 80 leadership team has pursued direct negotiations with LASEC to no avail; and has now pursued a legislative solution which the Superintendents have opposed and obstructed. Senator Mulroe has worked diligently in the best interests of the NSD 80 special education students, but now the State Representatives of the area seem to be putting campaign donations above the interests of special education students. REMEMBER IT IS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!
State Representative Robert Martwick needs to stop being a politician in this matter and provide the leadership in achieving a just solution for the special education students and taxpayers of NSD 80.
Representative Martwick’s failure to provide leadership has resulted in an injurious stalemate.
The current status of the matter is that they have a stalemate regarding a legislative solution and NSD 80 appears to be continuing a sincere effort to reach a negotiated solution; which continues to be frustrated by unreasonable responses angered that NSD 80 has attempted to reform the system.
Current tuition at LASEC’s Enger School is $46,000 a student. NSD 80 has offered to continue to pay the tuition with a 10% administrative fee since they are withdrawing. LASEC has rejected such a reasonable position in favor of a complex algorithm is illicit large sums of money from the taxpayer’s of NSD 80, clearly to punish them for their withdrawl and support their extravagant expenditures on administration and bureaucracy. The algorithm establishing the billing position of LASEC is that if one student were to attend Enger it would cost NSD 80 the “princely sum” of $300,000.00.
LASEC wants to keep getting the administrative sum of $250,000 from NSD 80 for their bloated administrative operations to maintain their bureaucracy rather than as NSD 80 leadership wants to invest this money in the education of Special Education services and education for the most needy population of the District.
This argument has devolved to an attempt by the Leyden and Norwood Park Superintendent’s establishment to maintain “status quo”, which is to continue to support a bloated bureaucracy, politicians continuing to collect campaign contributions, local government officials refusing to stand up for the special needs population and parents becoming used by the “establishment” to protect their fiefdoms.
What is happening in LASEC is a microcosm of what the Illinois State Board of Education has recently cited the Chicago Public Schools regarding their special education programs.
It is all about the MONEY !!!! Let’s make it truly all about the children and demand the accountability of the politicians and the entrenched educational establishment that is opposing a retooling of our local special education system; they are trying to preserve a bloated bureaucracy, jobs, political donations and a deficient special education program without clear goals.
The community needs to continue to support Dr. O’Malley and the NSD 80 Board of Education as they pursue a just solution for the special education population of Norridge School District 80. Their leadership will set the tone for a visionary program that will serve the area for decades to come.