The parents of 22 handicapped Montgomery County high school students have accused the county board of education of failing to provide adequate vocational training for their children.
Although a new county vocational and technical center will be built in Wheaton, members of the parents' group calling itself MC-VOTE, told the board last week that their children will graduate without occupational skills before the scheduled September 1983 opening.
"We feel that (Montgomery County) is failing to provide vocational/technical education commensurate to that available to students in neighboring Maryland communities," said Joyce Parreco, MC-VOTE representative and mother of three learning-disabled children.
Until the Wheaton facility is completed, the group is demanding that the students be enrolled in the Howard County Vocational Technical Center, where a handicapped unit already exists.
Six Montgomery County high schools now have programs to help students adjust to vocational classes, according to Dr. Harry Pitt, deputy superintendent.
"Last year the support teams helped disadvantaged children so that they could take vocational courses," he said. "This year the big jump is to use the support teams for the handicapped, too."
"It's always more impressive when you see all these efforts in one building," said Dr. Frank Carricato, director of career and vocational education. "Our services are dispersed throughout the county. But we are developing a plan so that the handicapped kids will have tranportation to those schools that have support teams."
MC-VOTE members have pointed out that support services often are implemented late in the school year or as pilot projects and that a much-publicized vocational assessment center at Walter Johnson High serves only a fraction of the students who need it.
"There are vocational services throughout the county," said Erma Calhoun, whose daughter just completed 10th grade. "But some are just course offerings. There are not enough support services in others; others have admissions standards that are too high for our kids. That's why we feel it's the board's responsibility to place our children outside the county."
The parents first appealed to the board of education last fall and were told to work with the school superintendent's staff, Calhoun said.
"Dr. Andrews' staff said that the county services were adequate," she explained. "We filed an appeal with the state (board of education), who told us it was a local matter. So we're back in front of the board."
The board questioned MC-VOTE members but did not agree to their request to send Montgomery students to the Howard County center.
"White it might cost us more to provide services (within the school system), we'll have the programs," said board member Carol Wallace. "Some things might be fruitful to iron out before the Wheaton opening."
"We got what we expected from the board -- tolerance," said Parreco after the group's presentation. "We got presented with a list of things that we already know about. But they're just paper programs."