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Posted at 08:55 AM ET, 03/12/2009

What Happened to City Lights Kids When Lights Went Out?

The financial collapse of City Lights Public Charter School last month left 48 D.C. high school students, many of them with serious emotional and learning disabilities, without a seat in a classroom. The District, which operates under a federal court consent decree stemming from its historic inability to serve special education students, pledged nonetheless to find places in DCPS where the students could receive the support they needed.
Where did they end up? Richard Nyankori, DCPS deputy chancellor for special education, said 19 City Lights students moved to public schools, including McKinley High School. Nine enrolled in public charter schools. The remaining 20 are headed for private schools, with the District paying for tuition and transportation at a cost of about $700,000 for the remainder of the school year. Federal law requires the District to find an appropriate private placement for children whose needs it determines that it can't meet in public schools. D.C. pays approximately $150 million a year for about 2,000 special ed kids in private schools.
Nyankori, who has won praise from federal court monitors for improvements he has made in delivery of special education services, said that DCPS probably could have accommodated more than 19 in public schools, but that because of a combination of their needs, and the disruption and trauma caused by closing the school, "we were going to err" on the side of what would provide the easiest transition for the children.
Bill Turque

By Kathryn Tolbert  |  08:55 AM ET, 03/12/2009

Categories:  Education

 
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