Baltimore school officials to seek end to court supervision of special education

November 06, 2003|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

Baltimore school officials told a federal judge yesterday that they intended to file a motion that could end decades-long court oversight of the school system's special-education program.

In 1984, lawyers filed a lawsuit on behalf of special-education students contending that they were not receiving appropriate services. Since then, the district has spent $100 million as a result of the case, according to Gayle Amos, who heads special-education services for the school system.

"We feel like we've satisfied the compliance issues of the original case," Amos said. "We have made substantial gains and we would like to turn our attention to achievement and instruction."

School officials yesterday told U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis that they planned to file the motion by Dec. 1 asking to be dismissed from the case, which has instigated substantial improvements in services to the city's disabled and special-needs students.

Garbis gave little indication of how he would view such a motion, nor did he say whether he agreed with the school system's contention that it has complied with all his orders and goals.

"The court will treat whatever is filed appropriately," he said.

Amos also said that the federal No Child Left Behind school reform law requires many of the same improvements in special education that the lawsuit asked for, making expensive court supervision unnecessary.

"We feel we no longer need court oversight," Amos said.

Garbis told school officials that both sides in the case should work with court-appointed special master Amy Totenberg to resolve some remaining issues before the district files its motion.

"I do think there are a number of things that can be agreed upon," he said.

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