Grassroots movement aimed at raising dyslexia awareness and informing policy makers on best practices.

In the 2021 legislative session, Connecticut’s General Assembly passed a bipartisan piece of legislation, Public Act 21-168 An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Task Force to Analyze the Implementation of the Laws governing Dyslexia Instruction and Training, which created and funded a new Office of Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities (ODRD) within the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE).

The ODRD was created in response to Deputy Commissioner Russell-Tucker’s testimony on House Bill 6517 where she stated CSDE’s lack of internal expertise, lack of capacity, and resources to facilitate Section 1 of the bill and in response to the recommendations of the Dyslexia Task Force (Report – December 2020) which found in part that dyslexia legislation from 2014-2017 has yet to be fully implemented.

On December 29, 2021, a job for the ODRD Education Bureau Chief (Recruitment #211214-3181MP-001) was posted.  However, CSDE disregarded Public Act 21-168, in particular:

  • Omitted legislatively mandated qualifications which specifically indicate 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.”
  • Omitted the legislatively mandated mission and requirements of the ODRD.
  • Added a “special requirement note” for administrative certification which is not aligned with the mission or duties of the ODRD

Constituents from across the state were enraged and used their voices!  They wrote emails to their legislators, the Commissioner of Education, 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.

On January 15,  a second revised job for the ODRD bureau chief job (Recruitment #220113-3181MP-001) was reposted, again without the requirements for the Bureau Chief to have any expertise in dyslexia, structured literacy, and higher education as required by the law.

CSDE repeatedly disregards 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 CSDE’s decision to publish a second recruitment for the ODRD Bureau Chief that omits legislatively mandated minimum expertise requirements, omits reference to the mission and duties of the ODRD as outlined within PA 21-168 because it is their purview to do so, and that adds requirements that are not aligned with the mission and duties of the ODRD gives the appearance that the CSDE does not intend to execute the ODRD as outlined within the 2021 legislation.

As an advocate who has voluntarily dedicated nearly a decade of my life, I remain committed to holding legislators and governmental agencies accountable for multiple years of dyslexia legislative requirements which have yet to be fully implemented and to ensuring that this 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.

Allison Quirion is the founder of Decoding Dyslexia-CT

The Department of Education has written a rebuttal to this commentary.