Mixed Verdicts in Special-Ed Complaints | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Mixed Verdicts in Special-Ed Complaints

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The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania offered two seemingly contradictory rulings late in August in the due process hearing of Mount Lebanon School District middle-schooler Michael Kurland and the joint complaint of 13 sets of district parents, both of which centered around the district's Extended School Year program for special education students (see Levine: "Child Left Behind," Aug. 20).

ESY programs are mandated by the state to help special-ed students maintain classroom and social skills. Michael Kurland's parents and the baker's dozen of other families had filed complaints that Mount Lebanon failed to include parents in decision-making about which ESY program their children would attend in 2003. They also said they were forced to accept a district-created ESY program as an inferior alternative to other ESY choices the district had recommended in previous years.

The state ruled against the Kurlands, saying their attendance at meetings was participation enough to satisfy special-ed rules, and that the district's ESY program was appropriate. But it found in favor of the parents on all counts of the complaint. The Kurlands, since they are among those who filed the joint complaint, may benefit from this broader ruling.

Stuart Kurland, Michael's father, says the family has yet to decide whether to appeal the state's ruling in his son's case, but adds that he is encouraged by this resolution of the group complaint.

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