Transfers of disabled kids upheld Complaints led to state review BALTIMORE COUNTY

September 02, 1993|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

Baltimore County schools did not violate state or federal laws governing disabled children, educate them inappropriately or deny them needed services, according to a review by the Maryland State Department of Education released yesterday.

Undertaken in response to complaints about the implementation an "inclusion" policy under which the county transferred hundreds of disabled students to neighborhood schools, the review did find six violations among 115 specific complaints.

In several cases, the system did not notify parents in writing of their children's placements. In several other instances, it failed to give parents information on their legal rights or failed to document the delivery of this information, the review said.

The county school system released the review yesterday, one day after a investigative task force issued a report that harshly criticized the system's handling of the inclusion program.

The state review concerned 115 specific complaints by parents and advocates for the disabled, while the task force looked at the entire process of moving students from special education centers to neighborhood schools.

It called the effort hasty and ill-conceived.

More than half of the complaints came from parents at the Chatsworth School, formerly a center for children with learning disabilities and severe emotional problems. About three-fourths of Chatsworth's students were reassigned to other schools for this year.

EXCERPTS FROM TASK FORCE REPORT

The following is the executive summary prepared by the Baltimore County Public Schools Task Force that investigated complaints about the demotion or reassignment of 40 school administrators by Superintendent Stuar In dealing with actions involving school administrators, the report refers to Rule 4117.1. This was a long-standing regulation that required demotions or involuntary transfers to be based on past performance evaluations and gave those affected the right to appeal, as well as six months to improve their performance. Shortly before he made his personnel changes, Dr. Berger changed that rule to give the superintendent complete authority to demote or transfer administrators at will.

As requested by the Baltimore County School Board, over the last month the Baltimore County Public Schools Task Force conducted an investigation of:

(1) whether the administrative assignments of personnel within the Baltimore County Public School System were based upon retaliation for exercise of constitutional rights or based upon discrimination on the basis of age, sex or disability: and

(2) whether the process used for the relocation of special needs students was illegal, ill-planned or poorly communicated.

In order to gain as much information as possible, the Task Force held three public meetings and established a private phone line and a private mailbox for receipt of information. During the course of this investigation, the investigative team of the Task Force interviewed more than one hundred witnesses and reviewed volumes of documents which were received from concerned individuals, the School Board and from federal and state agencies involved with the regulation of the Baltimore County Schools.

TASK FORCE CONCLUSIONS

Based upon this investigation the Task Force found:

1. Despite technical compliance with the procedures for adopting School Board Rule changes, the process and procedure utilized to revise rule 4117.1 clearly violated the spirit of Board policies which required open communications between and among the affected parties. Further, the change was accomplished in a manner that virtually none of the individuals adversely affected by personnel changes were advised of the change in Rule 4117.1 until the time of the adverse personnel action.

2. Despite disturbing accounts of alleged discrimination based upon age, sex, race and retaliation, the credible evidence established no discernible pattern of unlawful discrimination based upon age, sex, race or handicap, or exercise of constitutionally protected rights.

3. The subjective process used for making the administrative reassignments ignored objective evidence of prior performance, eliminated the right to notice of performance problems, and the right to appeal adverse personnel decisions. This process created an atmosphere of intimidation and fear of retaliation.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.