To the Editor:
In 2021, Connecticut’s General Assembly passed bipartisan legislation, Public Act 21-168, that created and funded a new Office of Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities (ODRD) within the state’s Department of Education.
The office was created in response to Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker’s testimony that the Department of Education lacked the internal expertise, lack of capacity and resources to implement section 1 of legislation recommended by the state’s Dyslexia Task Force, after finding that prior legislation dating to 2014-2017 had not yet been fully implemented.
On December 29, 2021, a job for Office of Dyslexia Education Bureau Chief was posted, but in doing so, the Department of Education disregarded Public Act 21-168, in particular:
- By omitting legislatively-mandated qualifications that the Bureau Chief “shall be qualified by training and experience to perform the duties of the office, including, but not limited to, expertise in higher education, dyslexia, and structured literacy.”
- By omitting legislatively-mandated mission and requirements for the Office of Dyslexia.
- By adding a “special requirement note” for administrative certification which is not aligned with the mission or duties of Office of Dyslexia.
In response, constituents from across the Connecticut were enraged and used their voices.
They wrote emails to their legislators, to Russell-Tucker, to her chief of staff, and the Governor’s Office demanding the job posting be amended to comply with the law. A short-lived victory was attained when the job posting was taken down to be “edited” on January 5, 2022.
On January 15, 2022, a second revised job search was reposted, AGAIN without requirements for the bureau chief to have any expertise in dyslexia, structured literacy, and higher education as required by the law.
The Department of Education has repeatedly disregarded PA 21-168’s mandate that the incoming bureau chief must possess expertise in higher education, dyslexia, and structured literacy, by opting to publish multiple recruitment postings that fail to identify these competencies as required areas of expertise and instead, identify “experience” in these areas as “preferred”, or optional.
Quite frankly, the decision to publish a second recruitment posting at odds with PA 21-168 gives the appearance that the Connecticut Department of Education does not intend to implement the new Office of Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities as outlined by the 2021 legislation.
As an advocate who has voluntarily dedicated nearly a decade of my life to the issue, I remain committed to holding legislators and governmental agencies accountable for the multiple years of dyslexia legislative requirements which have yet to be fully implemented and to ensuring that the Office of Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities is launched, staffed, and functions in accordance with PA 21-168 and its legislative intent so that students with dyslexia receive — and derive meaningful benefit from — a Free and Appropriate Public Education.
Quirion is an advocate at Decoding Dyslexia