[nfbmi-talk] oakland schools reveiwing policy
joe harcz Comcast
joeharcz at comcast.net
Fri Dec 24 13:09:37 UTC 2010
Oakland Schools reviewing policy for disabled private school students
By Jerry Wolffe
For the Daily Tribune
Click to enlarge
Oakland Schools is “conducting a further review” of providing accommodations to disabled students who attend parochial or private schools or are home-schooled.
The comment Wednesday from Superintendent Vickie L. Markavitch came a day after a published report that the district will no longer provide accommodations.
The story focused on the case of Sean Vailliencourt, 14, an eighth-grader at Guardian Angel Catholic School in Clawson who is visually impaired.
Sean is legally blind, requiring him to need large-print textbooks.
“The ISD (intermediate school district) told us they are not required to enlarge (print of) textbooks for children who are not in public school despite
the fact they have been providing the large print books for my son since he was in first grade at St. Dennis Catholic School in Royal Oak,” said Sean’s
Oakland Schools, which provides services to 25,000 special education students in 28 districts, would provide black-and-white textbooks for Sean at a cost
of 20 cents a page or 25 cents a page textbooks in color, she said.
“We can’t afford that,” Vailliencourt said.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, revised in 1990, requires public schools to provide necessary accommodations
to students with disabilities who attend private and parochial schools or are home-schooled.
School districts in the nation are required to create Individualized Education Plans for any student with a disability so the specific goals and accommodations
required for that student to succeed in school are provided on a yearly basis by the intermediate school district.
Kathy Barker, director of special education in Oakland Schools, originally said the change in policy went into effect earlier this year due to “dramatic
declines” in school revenue from property taxes.
Markavitch, the top Oakland Schools official, says the goal is twofold.
“(We want) to provide quality educational services to our community and comply with the law,” she said.
“Last week we sought additional legal help to ensure that our initial legal review was exhaustive,” she added.
“If we are given a legal opinion that indicates providing such materials to nonpublic or home-schooled students would be allowed by the laws that prevail
over the intermediate school district, we will do so.
“If there is uncertainty, we want to err on the side of the students, who we always put first. That is why we are further investigating this issue.”
Oakland Schools and all other intermediate school districts have been providing accommodations to both public and private disabled students since the inception
decades ago of ISDs.
Attorney Richard Bernstein of Farmington Hills said he would file a federal lawsuit against Oakland Schools if it failed to provide accommodations to disabled
“I’m confused why they need a further legal opinion to continue providing the same services for disabled students that they have provided since ISDs were
formed,” he said.
“However, since the prevailing federal laws are so clear and unambiguous, this matter should hopefully be a few days away from conclusion and students should
be able to receive the accommodations, both those in public and private schools that they need,” he added in response to Markavitch’s statements.
“Should the Oakland ISD come back with a legal opinion that defies law and a multi-decade course of conduct, we will immediately challenge this matter in
federal court,” Bernstein said.
Markavitch said the system is “not holding back the materials because of budget cuts. The materials are expensive, but they are not so costly that we wouldn’t
provide them if another legal opinion indicates we could do so.”
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