Bridging the special ed gap

August 24, 2005

BY ALL accounts, Harry T. Fogle, an assistant superintendent of schools in Carroll County, is a good manager, an experienced educator and someone who is sensitive to the needs of special education students and parents. He'll need all those qualities and more as he assumes the role of lead administrator for the Maryland State Department of Education's more intensive and extensive oversight of Baltimore's special education program, as ordered by a federal judge.

Mr. Fogle will supervise eight other state-sanctioned administrators who will be installed in several city school departments that deal with special education, including transportation, human resources, finances and instruction. These super-administrators are to provide ongoing supervision and collaborative help to city school managers so that the departments will be better able to deliver services, such as counseling and speech therapy, to special ed students. The city school system's repeated failure to deliver these services led to the substantial adoption of the state's proposed management intervention plan by Judge Marvin J. Garbis of U.S. District Court. State education officials say that the projected $1.4 million cost can be covered by unused federal funds devoted to special education.

In Carroll County, where he has served for 20 of his 33 years as an educator, Mr. Fogle has built a solid reputation as principal of a school for severely disabled students and countywide supervisor for special education, curriculum and instruction and student services. He has also served on statewide special education committees and earned respect for his ability to help special ed families, teachers and administrators understand one another.

How well he can adjust to the peculiarities of a much larger urban school system whose special ed population is more than half the size of Carroll County's entire school system is an open question. Mr. Fogle says he will try to have a cooperative relationship with city school officials while not accepting excuses when children don't learn. If he can focus on those priorities and also serve as an honest and healing broker between city and state educators, he will be off to a good start.

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