Not So 'Special' Treatment in Montgomery

Friday, November 17, 2006

Regarding Jay Mathews's Nov. 5 Magazine article, "A Boost Up; Montgomery County is helping its least- advantaged kindergartners close the gap":

The Thornton Commission identified three special-needs groups in Maryland: the poor; students who speak limited English; and children in need of special education. As the article illustrated, resources in Montgomery County public schools under Superintendent Jerry D. Weast are flowing to the first two.

However, students with disabilities are subjected to the county's unspoken policy of "litigate, don't educate." Although our disabled son, Robert, had proved his academic capability by second grade, our efforts to secure a general education for him were repeatedly blocked. We had to hire an attorney, and the county is still refusing to provide an appropriate computerized communication device.

The Montgomery school system ranks last in the state in providing the least restrictive environment for special education, and the money it spends on outside counsel to litigate against the disabled would fund 30 special education teachers. Bigoted public remarks by school personnel often go unchecked. Mr. Weast has pitted groups of children with special needs against one another in an unethical battle for resources, and he reinforces a culture of discrimination within the school system.



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