A parent's fight to give son a fair chanceThis letter is...

LETTERS

May 24, 1998

A parent's fight to give son a fair chance

This letter is on behalf of my son, J. T., who is a special education student in the Anne Arundel County school system. He is in the third grade at Hillsmere Elementary.

I cannot speak for my son on the challenges he faces every day, but I can speak for myself on the challenges a parent must endure when they have been blessed by a "special" child. I believe the Lord saves special children for special parents, and I am honored to be my son's father.

Dealing with the school system to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for a child is one of the biggest challenges a special-education parent faces. An IEP is designed and redesigned after input from parents, teachers, special educators, administrators, guidance counselors, occupational therapists, doctors, lawyers, psychologists, even the students themselves.

Parents must understand these basic premises:

If allowed to do so by the parent, the child will be "pushed through the system." It is up to the parent to take an active roll in securing an adequate and appropriate education for their children.

Almost no one who is involved in the public education of your child has an unfettered allegiance to the child's well-being. All individual views are subjected to administrative, budgetary or political pressures that, if allowed to, will negatively impact your child's welfare.

The most important thing a parent needs to know is their protected civil rights. As American citizens, we are federally guaranteed an adequate and appropriate education, regardless of race, creed or disability.

As a parent of a Level V special-education child, I feel a very real challenge to my child's civil rights and educational well-being by Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary and his actions in regard to the school board's budget proposal.

Mr. Gary's budget and his comments show an ignorance of the people and services required by federal law. His comments regarding the need for additional school psychologists illustrated a fundamental misunderstanding of the services they provide. The psychologist's primary duty is to test and evaluate the special education student and to interpret the findings for the other members of the IEP Team.

At no time, do they provide therapy or counseling for troubled students. Under Mr. Gary's proposed budget cuts, IEP Teams would be left to manage students, often with very challenging psychological profiles, without adequate professional help.

Even more disturbing is Mr. Gary's refusal to fund special education teachers and assistants to provide the services that are required under federal civil rights legislation.

I would view any curtailment of services because of budgetary constraints as a violation of my son's (or another child's) civil rights.

John T. McGuire Sr.

Annapolis

Explore community before casting it

We want to bring to your attention part of an April 30 article ("19-year-old charged as drug kingpin") that states "drug dealers who flood the impoverished neighborhoods of Brooklyn Park."

We take great offense at that statement. We are all employed at Belle Grove Elementary School. Some of us even live in Brooklyn Park and have for many years. Others of us have family members who grew up here or are still living here.

Ours is a small community school. True, the parents may not be as wealthy or as educated as some other communities, but they are hard-working and caring for the most part. We have students who are children of parents who attended Belle Grove. Some have left the community, only to return to live here again.

We ask that in the future you find out a little more about the community before making unwarranted statements.

The above was signed by 20 staff members of Belle Grove Elementary School, Brooklyn Park.

Boulevard would trade Pasadena's traffic woes

We were originally told the East-West Boulevard would have no effect on the community of Pasadena. We have lived on East Pasadena Road for 60-some years and we know this will have a devastating effect on our area.

Interstate 97 was built to alleviate traffic from Route 2. Millions of dollars was spent on this project. How many stores, houses and property were bought and destroyed for this undertaking?

Part of the Schillenger property (Papa John's) was bought, breaking up land that had been in the family since the 1800s.

At that time, a cloverleaf was to be built at Routes 2 and 10 connecting Route 100 and I-97. All that was needed was a road to connect Routes 10, 100 and I-97.

Now, however, the East-West Boulevard will put traffic back on Route 2 at Pasadena Road. Do the state highway administrators agree with this plan? Apparently, an awful amount of taxpayer dollars have been wasted.

Sometimes, traffic coming out of West Pasadena Road is stopped back to the B&A bike path. Most of the traffic then makes a left turn onto Route 2 and then, has one block to get on the right to get to Routes 10 and 100.

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