Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Special Education Question

When should taxpayers pay for private schooling for special education students?
That’s one of several tough questions before the current term of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The “when” is the point. A “free, appropriate” public education is guaranteed by the Individuals with Learning Disabilities Education Act.
This case, started by parent Tom Freston of New York City, hinges on whether parents must first give public schooling a chance before getting reimbursed for sending their children with learning disabilities to private schools.
Parents charge a six-month “waste of time” in public schools without adequate special ed programs damages their children.
The question of mainstreaming — having the children in the same classrooms as their nondisabled peers — hovers in the background.
Cape May County has an excellent Special Services School District for those who cannot be mainstreamed. But that district is being buffeted by inadequate state funding, by the increasing trend to mainstreaming, and by the growth in autism.
Autism Speaks, a federal project, filed a brief supporting Freston. The National School Boards Association has backed the school district, citing the cost of private education.

An update to a recent column and blog on the case of Stephen French of Ocean City who, after allegedly drinking 10 glasses of wine in a Somers Point restaurant, struck three young bicyclists on Ocean Drive in Egg Harbor Township, killing Richard H. Branca, 17.
French has been sentenced to 16 years in prison. And Branca’s family has filed a civil suit against Romanelli’s Restaurant, where French allegedly drank for four hours before getting behind the wheel of his car. No word on whether authorities also are taking action against Romanelli’s.


At October 11, 2007 at 10:57 AM , Anonymous Honey West said...

This is a tough question. I'm not convinced that mainstreaming works, or is fair to any of the teachers or students. I do believe a minimum period of time should be required, before students are provided with private schooling. And just what is meant by "private schooling" ? Are "we" paying for private schooling over and above the special services provided within the school system?

At October 11, 2007 at 12:04 PM , Anonymous ruby said...

This is a tough question.

At October 11, 2007 at 12:16 PM , Blogger Joe Zelnik said...

Yes, the cost goes into the budget and taxpayers eventually would pay some.
The latest: The court yesterday approved the lower court verdict that backed the parent. Several surprising things about that. One justice, Anthony Kennedy, did not participate and gave no reason, The vote was 4-4, and a tie backs the lower court. The court gave absolutely no explanation with its ruling, And that ruling came much much quicker than rulings usually do.


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