Good evening, we are Brian Adams and Donna Zirkel, Co-Presidents of the Rockaway
Township Education Association. It is our understanding that the Board heard in executive session a plan to possibly privatize and outsource the position of Board Certified Behavior Analyst. We have numerous concerns regarding this decision and the timing.
Mr. Scott Buckley who serves as the district behaviorist has a variety of roles within the district. Mr. Buckley is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and an expert in the field of applied behavior analysis with over 25 years of experience in the field. He serves on IEP teams as an integral part in advocating what’s best for our children. He trains all the staff on how best to teach and address the unique needs of our most vulnerable children. He is not only focused on children with special needs, he also gives input on best practices for general education students who can benefit from behavioral interventions.
It’s ironic that it’s Autism Awareness month and we are here discussing saving the position of someone who has been integral in building and supporting a thriving build our programs since day 1. We think back to the staffs previous awareness presentations and the success students have had in their maturation and growth over the years. Mr. Buckley is a big part of that. Without the supports provided to students and staff that may not have been possible.
For those of you who are not completely familiar with the history of our autism program. It began over 15 years ago with an outsourced behaviorist providing behavioral support to our students and staff. Although the program was successfully launched it became clear based on the feedback from parents, teachers and other professionals that this model was not meeting the needs of our students. In response, the district created the position of Behaviorist and hired Mr. Buckley to more effectively meet those needs, to which he has done so in exemplary fashion for the past 15 years. It seems very unlikely that a return to an outsourcing model would even begin to meet the needs of a much larger autism and special education program, especially by consultants who, in all likelihood have much less expertise and experience than does Mr. Buckley.
We question why this decision would be made right now and seemingly in such haste. We will be transitioning to another Superintendent in only a few months and our director of Special Services has literally been on the job for days. Our students need and thrive on consistency which Mr. Buckley has provided for over 15 years during that time we’ve had upwards of 10 Superintendents and even more directors of Special Services.
Among others, the services provided by Mr. Buckley have saved the district millions of dollars over the years in out of district placements and even brought students from outside the district based on the success of our programs. Mr. Buckley has not only provided technical training to teachers and paraprofessionals working with students in need, but has collaborated with and advised administrators on best practices and the ethical treatment of our students, which have shaped our current district policies. His dedication and contributions to our special education programs have been enormous and could not possibly be rivaled by the services of an outsourced agency.
While we understand that there are dollars and cents at play here in the budget season, we already have someone on the job each and everyday who is invested in the success of our children. While you may, or may not save a few dollars, we question the services that you may receive from a firm that will have limited time and care devoted to our students.
Mr. Buckley is not one to sing his own praises, pat himself on the back, or seek the limelight. Despite his current medical condition and treatments, He is consistently here for our students providing guidance, knowledge, and a necessary service for our district. He does deserve our thanks for all his compassion to our students over the years and that is not something you can put a price on.