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SPAN's Myriam Alizo on Univision Education Special

On March 23, SPAN's own Myriam Alizo joined Primer Impacto’s co-anchor Barbara Bermudo and her husband, Univision 23 news anchor Mario Andres Moreno, for the next education special: Estudiante Unico.  On this one-hour special the hosts shared some of their own experiences as parents as well as interviewed expert guests on how parents can leverage each student’s uniqueness.  The show highlighted various ways parents can help recognize a child’s needs and strengths and better communicate this information with school personnel in order to help ensure their children’s academic success.

Make Your Voices Heard: Changes to NJ Special Education Code

On February 27, Peg Kinsell, SPAN Public Policy Director, Jennifer Halper, Senior Staff Attorney and Legislative Coordinator of Disability Rights New Jersey were joined by more than 150 parents and advocates as they discussed the proposed changes to the state special education code and how they will impact that will impact parents and students rights, as well as the quality of programs and related services for students with disabilities.  For details on the proposed changes, see the white paper developed by a coalition of parents, educators and advocates and also additional information from

New USDE Rules on Schools Billing Medicaid for IEP Services

What's Happened?  New regulations from the US Department of Education now make it easier for schools to bill Medicaid for related services provided at school as part of a child's Individualized Educational Plan (IEP).  These regulations now only require parental consent the first time that the school plans to bill Medicaid, and at any time that there are changes in the amount or type of related services that could impact Medicaid billing.  They also require that the school provide notice at least annually to the parent that they have provided this consent.  You can find the new regulations, a

Statewide Parent to Parent Support

The DCF Commissioner recently announced support for a Mom 2 Mom Program, a call center for families of children with disabilities experiencing stress and mental health concerns.  The role of Mom 2 Mom is to assess mental health risks and then connect families of children with developmental disabilities to mental health and other service providers.  This will meet an important need of families who have children with disabilities.  The services available through Mom 2 Mom will not include advocacy to help families access the services and supports their child and family need.

USDE Resources on ESEA Flex Waivers

The US DOE has developed a set of materials that provide an overview of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility process, also known as ESEA waivers, by which 34 states (including NJ) and DC have applied for and received flexibility on certain provisions of ESEA.  These materials, a brochure and five companion fact sheets, try to explain the rationale and intent of ESEA flexibility, as well as address key components and highlight plan elements for a number of states approved for flexibility. The brochure and fact sheets can be found on the Department's updated ESEA

When Violence Strikes

We are very saddened to hear of the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and send our sincere thoughts and condolences. Tragic events such as this one are very challenging for families, schools and entire communities. As we try to help our children find some comfort and sense of safety in the face of such tragey, these excellent resources from The Center for School Mental Health  related to school crisis response are free and readily available:  Resources for Dealing with Traumatic Events at Schools.  You can also get useful information from the Substance

Families Helping Families

Helping out during the tough times can help us all to move toward recovery and restoration.  Check in on friends and neighbors, especially the elderly, those who don't have family nearby, who may have a disability or emotional needs, or who you you just haven't heard from in the last few days.  Drop off some groceries or a meal, help them clean up, or stop by for a chat.

Also, here are some agencies where you can volunteer or make a donation:

Help for Families Impacted by the Sandy Disaster

Our thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  We hope everyone is safe and starting the recovery process.  Our offices in Newark now have power and our phone systems and internet service are up and running.  Over the next few days, our staff may not be at full force as each of us copes with the impact of Sandy on our homes and families.  So, please be patient with us.  We will get back to you.

In the meantime, here are some resources that may help:

  • For a listing of emergency shelters, warming stations and other assistance with immediate needs in your area, visit

NJ Advocates To Secretary Duncan: NJ’s NCLB Waiver Will Harm Schools Serving Our Neediest Children

Trenton, NJ –  Dozens of New Jersey parent advocacy groups, researchers, civil rights and social justice organizations, organized labor, community activists and elected officialstoday urged Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to examine the disparate racial and economic impacts of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver granted to the state by the U.S. Education Department last spring. 

The request came in the form of a letter to Secretary Duncan outlining the signers’ concerns with the punitive accountability system put in place by the NJ Department of Education (NJDOE) as a result of the

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