Governor Names Members of Special Education Taskforce

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Governor Chris Christie announced appointments to the Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students April 17.  The Taskforce was established by the Governor’s signature back in March of last year.  See P.L.2013, c.31 (S-600 / A-1365 (Beck/Ruiz/Rible/Angelini)).   NJPSA has two members on the taskforce – Dr. Barbara E. Frascella is the Association's representative and Kerri Lee Walsifer of the Spring Lake school district.  Ms. Walsifer serves as a Supervisor of Special Education in Spring Lake.

The body is tasked with “studying various issues related to improving the funding, delivery, and effectiveness of special education programs and services for public school students.” Under the law, the task force will examine issues including, but not limited to:

  • the evaluation of practices for classifying and educating students who are eligible for special education;
  • the development of best practices for education professionals working with special education students;
  • strategies to reduce the costs associated with the placement of eligible students in out-of-district public schools or private schools, including the development of in-district special education programs and services; and
  • the development of standards and appropriate oversight to ensure that programs and services address the needs of students, focus on student achievement, and assess the effectiveness of programs and services.

The task force consist of 17 members including a member appointed through NJPSA’s recommendation.  Others include: the Commissioner of Education; one parent or guardian of a public school student receiving special education services; one parent or guardian of a student attending a private school for students with disabilities; one public school special education teacher; one director of special education services for a school district; and one representative each of the Arc of New Jersey; the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities; the New Jersey Parent-Teacher Association; the New Jersey Association of School Administrators; the New Jersey Education Association; the New Jersey School Boards Association; the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials; the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey; the Garden State Coalition of Schools; ASAH; and the American Federation of Teachers.  Appointees are as follows:

Parent/Guardian of a Public School Student Receiving Special Education Services

            Appoint the Honorable John J. Driscoll (Paramus, Bergen)

Parent/Guardian of a Student Attending a Private School for Students with Disabilities

            Appoint Jean Pasternak (Short Hills, Essex) 

Public School Special Education Teacher

            Appoint Kristin P. Hennessy (Point Pleasant Beach, Ocean)

Director of Special Education Services for a School District

            Appoint Kerri Lee Walsifer (Sea Girt, Monmouth)

ARC of New Jersey Representative

            Appoint Kevin Sturges (Annandale, Hunterdon)

New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities Representative

            Appoint Deborah M. Spitalnik, Ph.D. (Stockton, Hunterdon)

New Jersey Parent-Teacher Association Representative

            Appoint Catherine M. Lindenbaum (Brick, Ocean)

New Jersey Association of School Administrators Representative

            Appoint Kevin W. Ahearn, Ph.D. (Matawan, Monmouth) 

New Jersey School Boards Association Representative

            Appoint Donna M. Kaye, Esq. (West Windsor, Mercer)

New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association Representative

            Appoint Barbara E. Frascella, Ph.D. (Allentown, Monmouth)

New Jersey Association of School Business Officials Representative

            Appoint Corinne Steinmetz (Phillipsburg, Warren)

Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey Representative

            Appoint Margaret Kinsell (Browns Mills, Burlington)  

Garden State Coalition of Schools Representative

            Appoint Lynne Strickland (Rumson, Monmouth)

Association for Schools and Agencies for the Handicapped Representative

            Appoint Chris Sarandoulias (Medford, Burlington)

New Jersey Education Association Representative

            Appoint Marie Blistan (Harrisonville, Gloucester)

American Federation of Teachers Representative: 

            Appoint Princess Hogue (Newark, Essex)