NASET News Alert

Wall Street Journal Raises Questions About Conspiracy and Corruption in NYS with Children with Disabilities

July 26, 2007

The Wall Street Journal reported this week on what appears to be widespread corruption at the New York State Education Department.  This corruption targets children with disabilities. Dan Golden, the journalist making this report, cited sources inside the Office of State Review confirming that the State Review Officer, Paul Kelly, was ruling contrary to recommendations of his attorney staff in order to find in favor of school districts at the expense of children with disabilities. The article suggests that his relationship with Kate Surgalla, Kelly's paramour and a high ranking attorney with the Office of Counsel of the State Education Department, may be influencing his decisions.  Kelly and Surgalla refused comment, according to Golden.  The State Review Officer is required by law to be independent of the State Education Department and render impartial decisions on the special education cases that come before him.

"Golden has confirmed many of the facts that my office has been investigating over the last year in preparation for legal action against Mr. Kelly and the others involved in what I believe to be a conspiracy," Cuddy stated.  Sources inside Kelly's office have been reporting to parents' attorneys across the State that the office has been compromised, and any voice of opposition to these shenanigans within Kelly's office is quickly stifled.  Kelly's office has been determined to have turnover rate four times higher than other State Education Department offices, as individuals are pressured to leave when they speak out against Kelly's agenda.  "Multiple attorneys in that office reported that they left because they felt that participating in Kelly's agenda would cause them to lose their licenses to practice law, and sources inside the office confirm that the agenda is ongoing despite expressed opposition within the office from Kelly's staff," Cuddy said.

Because of today's Wall Street Journal report, Cuddy has requested that New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo commence an immediate, full-scale investigation in order to determine whether there has been a criminal conspiracy to violate the civil rights of New York State's disabled children and their parents.  "We can't allow evidence in Albany to be destroyed in shredders or wiped from computers. We cannot allow witnesses to these events to be coerced or intimidated into withholding information from investigatory authorities.  My office is offering assistance to any current or former employee of the State Education Department who feels that they are being threatened or intimidated into participating in a cover-up.  I am also concerned that the people of good conscience that participated in exposing this situation will be retaliated against.  Steps must be taken to protect them as these issues move forward."  Cuddy also bought this matter to the attention of the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Education.

On July 20th, parents' lawyers from across the State met in New York City to discuss possible legal avenues to address the situation at the Office of State Review.  As a result of Golden's article, these attorneys will meet again at 3:00 p.m. on the 25th to coordinate efforts in a legal action against the State Education Department and the individuals responsible.  Cuddy concluded his letter to Cuomo, "As long as this situation is allowed to exist, no parent of a disabled child is being afforded due process in New York.  The safety and the futures of disabled children are being put at risk.  I urge your office to take immediate action to hold individuals accountable."

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