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NLSD122 Pulls Out of Lincoln-Way Area Special Ed. D843

New Lenox School Dist. 122 agrees to become its own Special Education Cooperative, breaking away from LWASE D843. The process will take 18 months, beginning in January 2013.

The New Lenox School District 122 Board of Education agreed, beginning in January to begin pulling away from Lincoln-Way Area Special Education District 843. The aim is to shape its own New Lenox Special Education Cooperative.

Supt. Michael Sass the NLSD122 has been slowly bringing home special education services for youngsters in D122, since 2004. A financial review of the special education program indicates that D122 would realize as cost savings of $529,000 for the 2014-2015 school year. By forming its own cooperative, this "eliminates another layer of government. It provides quicker response, problem-solving and decisions for our students."

NLSD122 Cooperative has been forming since 2004

After 10 years of integrating special education programs into the New Lenox school system, Sass the district now offers the programs that allow special education students the opportunity to attend school within their own district, if not in the same school as their siblings.

A former special education teacher, who headed up a special education cooperative in Oak Park before joining NLSD122, Sass said he is confident that the district has the in-house expertise to accommodate its own youngsters. He noted that LWASE D843 would be depended on for a few select services.  

The services that NLSD122 has brought home:

  • In 2004: Early Childhood and Learning Disabled Programs
  • In 2006: Psychologist Services and Social Work Services
  • In 2009: Specialized Instructions
  • In 2012: Communication Disorder and Phonological Programs
  • Planned for 2013: Developmental Kindergarten, Early Childhood Screening and Evaluation, Private Placements and Adaptive Physical Education

Sass said the New Lenox district houses programs for primary and intermediate classrooms as well as one junior high classroom." In place are hearing, vision, audiological, orientation and mobility services along with multiple needs, occupational and physical therapy services.  

LWASE D843's Response to the Withdrawal

Sally Bintz, director of LWASE D843, said, "We have a different estimation what the cost would be." However, "it's not unusual for a district the size of New Lenox to make the decision to centralize the services within their district."

Sass and Bintz have been in discussion about the withdrawal since November.  

New Lenox schools will continue to count on the LWASE for a handful of students. Sass said only 10 students are projected to need services that cannot be delivered effectively within in its own boundaries.

The special district is not expected to be financially strapped by NLSD122's decision to withdraw, she said. "We've been working with our members districts (Frankfort District 157c, Summit Hill District 161, Mokena School District 159 and Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210) to revamp our billing process to let districts make choices about which services they use and which they don't. …. (The NLSD122) partnership will be missed by all.  

"I'm personally disappointed that a relationship that was 40 years in the making is changing. But we're committed to working together. They have said they want to continue sending students to our programs."

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pat January 21, 2013 at 10:36 PM
Cant agree more this is truly a disservice to our children. I feel this was pretty much a business decision in hopes they would save money. Parents need to get involved and attend school board meetings and voice your concerns.
cmc January 24, 2013 at 06:22 PM
Unfortunately, it seems that parents opinions don't matter to #122 or #210. Decisions are made BEFORE letting the public know about them - which leads back to the truth about decisions being "business" based. What the best interests of our children and opinions of our parents do not count if it's more cost effective to take a different path. I honestly heard about this over five months ago when it was originally decided "behind closed doors". I asked administrators at both LincolnWay and in #122 about it and they knew nothing... they felt I had to have misunderstood. These schools are certainly not equipped to educate our children with the more severe special needs. They can't educate the ones with smaller disabilities. It is so saddening that so many of our children are not going to meet their potential because of a District fiscal issue. Our disabled students have had enough of a time getting through school let alone reaching their full potential. This decision has put a glass ceiling on the level of education our disabled children can, and will, receive. It is a pathetic display of uncaring, discrimination and lack of understanding of special education as a whole.
Linda January 24, 2013 at 10:52 PM
If you feel that strongly there is legal action called Due Process
Cat January 24, 2013 at 11:41 PM
I have an 8th grader with ADHD with a 504 plan. The schools have thrown just about every block in front of him getting accommodations as they can. Mr Parker in 5th grade told him he was bad. He insisted the teachers get no training on ADHD which was a bald faced lie. The teachers refuse to follow the accommodations. When he gets I trouble I ask where is he sitting. And he is NEVER in front as his accommodations state he must be. NLSD is absolutely horrible with 504 plans and if he needed an IEP I would have moved to a better school district. I pay 8000 a year in taxes to send my kids to these schools. New Lenox is NOT equipped to make this change. They won't even follow a basic 504 plan and allow teachers to put blame on the kids for their disability. I would never recommend NLSD to anyone thinking of moving here for the schools. The schools are mediocre at best
Cat January 24, 2013 at 11:45 PM
In addition, I was told by a Dr that NLSD is known by professionals as being opposed to working with special Ed kids. He told me good luck with NLSD. The Drs know it. If you have a special needs kid in NLSD you better think about relocating to Naperville or Orland where they have outstanding programs. Now reading his latest development I am furious this was going on behind our backs

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