To the Editors:

In response to the Letter to the Editor from Lisa Smith, I would like to take this opportunity to personally apologize for any misunderstanding of my position related to comments I made at the April 3 Board of Finance mill rate meeting. Ms. Smith sent the same letter to the Board of Finance on April 5, received an in-depth written response that day, and to date unfortunately, has not responded to my offer to discuss the matter.

It was certainly not my intent to offend nor demean. Families with children of special needs face incredible challenges, and I’ve always been supportive of their work to secure the support they deserve.

Ms. Smith referenced my “personal and baseless opinions.” The statements I made were based on research and publicly available facts, not on personal opinions. Furthermore, I have never had access to any confidential information regarding special needs and insinuating such is simply false.

I reiterate my position as stated at every one of the public sessions where I have referenced my concerns related to the special needs programs in the Wilton Public Schools.

“I support the efficient delivery of the appropriate services for those truly in need.”

My statement regarding the lack of preparedness of certain parents and staff prior to PPT meetings was based on comments made by the Assistant Superintendent Andrea Leonardi at two public meetings, one BOE meeting last fall and at a public meeting hosted by the Wilton Public Schools in February. I very much believe that Andrea Leonardi is concerned about the best use of resources and helping advance the amount of time the specialists are spending with the special education students.

One of her suggestions was to find ways to reduce the number of rescheduled meetings, saving staff time and cost, an initiative I wholeheartedly support. This not only should save precious resources for the schools, but more importantly, help ensure that the necessary services are available for those who have invested heavily as any concerned parent should, in advocating for their child. I strongly believe that anything which impedes the efficient delivery of the appropriate services for those truly in need should be admonished and eliminated.

The idea that there were and are some parents in Wilton trying to “game the system” by trying (and mostly failing) to get special ed status for their child in the high school years is both widely known and demonstrated by the data laid out in the DMC report which is also public information.

Again, please accept my apology for any misunderstanding of my position as I thought I was clear that it is the actions of some, certainly not all, that are causing excess expense and diversion of resources from those who are spending their time and energy wisely on behalf of their children.
Walter Kress
Hurlbutt Street, April 18