Montclair schools: We promise to do better for special education students – Montclair Local

Christopher Tienken presented an audit of the Montclair special education program at a May 5 Board of Education meeting. His findings showed racial disproportionality in special education classifications, issues with communication and inconsistent experiences for families across the district. (FROM MONTCLAIR BOE VIDEO)


Montclair schools say they’re undertaking major, systemic changes to special education after an audit found racial disparities in how often children are classified as needing services, problems with communication and uneven experiences across the district’s schools.

That third-party audit, by GoTeach Consultants, was first presented by company founder Christopher Tienken to the Montclair school board in May. Its 35 pages of findings were posted to the school district’s site Monday.

In a letter sent Friday to families of special education students and students with 504 plans (which provide accommodations to children with disabilities), schools Superintendent Jonathan Ponds said the district would be “mindful of our magnet system and the varied programs in special education across all schools” as it takes steps in response. 

But Ponds also said the authors had given Montclair schools the tools “to implement a uniform system of service with equity and quality for our protocols, processes, practices and oversight across all programs and schools.”

Members of the district’s Special Education Parent Advisory Council will join the district’s newly formed Build Back