From Hilary Jenkins-Spangler:
My husband and I are organizing a rally outside the Harford County Board of Education on Wednesday. We want to hold the administrators responsible for the substandard services for special education students – we are still at least 20 years behind surrounding counties. The changes implemented by the county since the Hickory abuse are superficial and still deny children with disabilities a free and appropriate education. Yes, they have more classrooms and a lower student to teacher ratio, but the teachers and assistants are still not trained to work with kids with autism or behavioral problems. So from abuse, we go to neglect! We are trying to partner up with the Harford County Teacher’s Union.
It was clear to our home school IEP team that our son needed a different placement, still, we had to spend over $13,000 in legal fees for his ‘free’ appropriate education. Red Pump is the alternate placement. During this process, the administrators lied to us, deceived us, withheld information, abused our time and finances. They completely violated my belief in logic, reason, decency and fair play – they behaved as if a law unto themselves. At the end of our last IEP meeting they challenged us to take them to Due Process if we disagreed with their decision. ($40-60,000 with a 13% chance of success!) They think they are fire-proof – this is quite typical of how they operate. Personally, I think some of them should be fired!
My son is in now in the Red Pump Regional Autism Program…I observed for 3 ½ hours today and left appalled and depressed! Firstly, it’s not an appropriate placement for him as defined by his IEP. Also, there is a behaviorally disturbed kid who runs riot– he yells and screams, throws things around when asked to do something he doesn’t want to, the staff have no control over the classroom, – because they have no training in behavioral issues. He’s a big kid with no boundaries, one day he will hurt someone. In the mean time, not much learning is happening for anyone!
If we had decent special ed programs, some costly non-public placements could be avoided. (They can be as high as 100K per year!) Our teachers have not had a pay raise in five years – there is an exodus of talent going to surrounding counties. Apparently the Administrators at Central Office have managed to give themselves a pay raises! This affects everyone – not just parents of children with disabilities.