The following statement, signed by 27 Prince George's County parents of handicapped children, was sent to a number of county state and national officials:
Parents of handicapped children are deeply disturbed by the removal of 50 percent of the funds that had been provided in this year's budget for our children's summer school program.
Originally, summer school programs were funded in the fiscal year budget following the year in which the programs began. This created a situation in which programs were developed and staffed before money had been appropriated. Approximately three years ago, in an effort to eliminate the confusion surrounding the beginning of summer programs, money was placed in the budget to cover two years of summer programs. This created for one fiscal year only a double funding situation. Hence, summer programs for handicapped children for the summer of 1982 were funded by the county council, county executive and school board in fiscal year 1982, as they should have been.
Now, one week before these programs are scheduled to start, the parents of handicapped children have been notified that the programs have been reduced from six weeks to four weeks, and from six hours to four hours a day. The tuition rate of $158 remains the same, which has been doubled from the previous year. The discretionary authority which allowed funds to be reprogrammed from the 1982 fiscal year budget to the 1983 budget for an unknown purpose, while not illegal, certainly has become, in our opinion, an abuse of administrative prerogative.
Summer programs for the handicapped are an integral part of their special education program. Handicapped children regress rapidly if educational and therapeutic programs are not continued on almost a year-round basis. We realize that our children, as well as the children attending regular education programs, will strongly feel the budget reductions now being made in all human services in Prince George's County. However, summer programs for the handicapped are believed by both parents and educators to hold the same degree of importance to the handicapped child as the study of algebra and geometry to a student in the regular education program.
Each elected official representing Prince George's County, whether serving at the county, state or national level, influences directly or indirectly the appropriations and expenditures within the county.
Therefore, we strongly urge you to do whatever is necessary to have these funds restored to the FY 1982 budget so that our children will receive the full summer school program that had previously been approved.