Opportunities Collaborative for Students with Special Needs, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2019.
The focus of our work is to enhance the capacity of charter schools, non-public schools, communities, parents and students across Western New York to assure that high quality support and services are being provided to those in need. We believe working together can achieve greater results.
Supporting charter, private, and parochial
schools of Erie and Niagara County, in obtaining appropriate and necessary educational support services for their students with special needs.
Our vision is to be recognized by school leaders, educators, parents and families of students with special needs within Erie and Niagara County, as a primary source of professional training, resources and collaboration to ensure that their students receive the support services and quality instruction they are legally and morally entitled to receive as part of their educational plan.
John Cole - Executive Director
John Cole currently serves as Executive Director of the Opportunities Collaborative for Students with Special Needs, Inc. John was the Director of Special Education for the Sweet Home Central School District from 1998 to 2020. He retired from Sweet Home in September 2020. John came out of retirement in late September 2020 in order to serve as the Interim Director of Student Services for the Kenmore Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District while the district conducted a search for the next director.
John has been in education for 37 years, he started as a special education teacher for Genesee Valley BOCES. In 1989, John began working for the Stanley G. Falk School in Buffalo. Falk School is a New York State Approved Special Day School for children with behavioral disabilities. John served as the Intake Coordinator, Crisis Counselor and eventually, Principal of the Rossler Street location of the Falk School. In 1996, John left the Falk School to assume the responsibilities of Assistant Director of Special Education for the Niagara-Wheatfield Central Schools. John worked for the district until he took the position of Director of Special Education for the Sweet Home School District.
John’s career includes teaching in higher education. He has taught courses at Buffalo State College and Niagara University.
He holds bachelors and master’s degree in Special Education (Learning and Behavioral Disorders) as well as certification as an Elementary Education Teacher, and Certifications as a Building Administrator and District Administrator in New York State.
John’s most important professional accomplishment to date was making Sweet Home one of the most inclusive school districts in Wester New York. He developed in district programs and supports for students diagnosed with Autism, Behavioral Delays and Intellectual Disabilities.
Board of Directors
Robert M. Bennett, President
Chancellor Emeritus, NYS Board of Regents
Jeffrey T. Blair, Esq., Secretary
Attorney, The Blair Law Group, LLP
Kathy Ralabate Doody, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Exceptional Education, SUNY, Buffalo State
Pastor James Giles
President/CEO of Back to Basics Outreach Ministries, Inc.
Michael LaFever, Ed.D, Vice President
President, Catholic Children’s Learning Corp.
Retired Superintendent, Catholic Schools of WNY
James C. Muffoletto, CPA
Niagara Charter School, President
Michelle Stevens, Treasurer
Sheila Q. Weimer, Esq.
Attorney at Law
Heidi A. Wieczorek
Bridget O’Brien Wood
Elizabeth R. Wright, J.D. M.S.W.
Dean and Associate Professor
Division of Health and Human Services, Daemen University
I have completed the IMSE training that was offered to me through the Opportunities Collaborative and all I have to say is WOW! It was an amazing two weeks! I have learned so much and I am so excited to use this method of teaching with my kids this year. I think the multi-sensory way of learning is a wonderful way to engage my students while setting them up for success. The materials I was sent are all wonderful, very comprehensive, and ready to use! We are off to do great things this Fall!"
L. DuFour, Special Education Teacher, Niagara Charter School