Sunday, October 12, 2008

DCPS to improve special education

From the "Well, they've got nowhere to go but up" file DCPS is (yet again) vowing to improve their special education services, services that have been under federal judicial control for a donkey's age.
The promises come as a federal judge has put the city under pressure to overhaul the services.

Mayor Adrian Fenty, Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and other top officials met on the steps of a Northwest middle school on Tuesday. Fenty described two pilot programs that will allow the school system to welcome some of the 11,000 children with learning disabilities or behavioral issues.

Rhee indicated she was confident that beginning next year, D.C. will be able to start bringing back to the public schools some of the 2,300 special education students currently in private schools. This costs more than $200 million a year.

"Each and every child should have the opportunity to succeed," Fenty said.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman last month criticized Washington for failing to meet the terms of a 2006 consent decree settling Blackman v. District of Columbia. That's a class-action lawsuit brought by parents protesting delays in providing special-education services.

A court-appointed monitor in a report said moves by D.C. schools and the Office of the State Superintendent of Schools were disorganized and lacked clear lines of accountability.

On Monday, Friedman told Rhee and State Superintendent of Education Deborah Gist to return to court on Oct. 20 to answer several pages of questions about how they are prepared to follow with the consent decree.

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