Task Force Presents Special Education Report To Frederick County School Board

It calls for an outside audit of the special ed program.

Frederick, Md (KM) The long awaited report on Frederick County’s special education program was presented Wednesday night to the Board of Education.

One of the 13 recommendations that generated a lot of discussion was the appointment of a third party to “evaluate, investigate and audit all specialized programs.” School Board member Jason (Mr. J) Johnson supported that idea. “The audit: I’m totally in support of taking fresh eyes and looking what we’re doing and making corrections,:” he said.

So was his colleague, Karen Yoho. “If we’re gonna do it right, let’s do it right. And it seems to me that starts with an audit,” she said.

Other recommendations include adding a behavioral support position in every elementary school, reducing special education workloads and increasing staff planning time;  and creating an advocacy center for families “that provides supports, information, and best practices.”

Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Dyson says the advocacy center  is “near and dear” to her heart. “I feel like our parents still need a place to go. As we rebuild trust, we need to address that,”: she said. “And I think over time, those support centers will take on a different kind of life. But right now  while we’re addressing the needs of our students, we have  to work to build trust with our families.”

The task force was set up to examine School System’s special education program following a finding from the US Department of Justice which said Frederick County Public Schools was in violation of federal and state laws regarding the discipline administered to special ed students, and that includes the use of seclusion and restraint.

During Wednesday’s meeting, School Board President Brad Young introduced a passing motion to send out a request for a proposal to companies to conduct the audit. He also said many of the recommendations will require funding. “I would even be for not waiting for the next budget cycle for many of these things, and going and trying to advocate and find funding for it  now if if these things can be implemented sooner rather than waiting for the next budget cycle,:” he said.

School Board Vice President Sue Johnson said there’s a lot of hurt that needs to heel from this whole situation. “I’m hoping the heartbreak can turn into a little heart warm, and that we never go down this road again,” she said. “It kind of like an ugly side of the system that I never knew existed. But we own it.”

By Kevin McManus