Mass and Fed SPED law requires any eventual SPED referral have previous intervention strategies delineated by a "Child Study Team" CST or the like consisting of adm, classroom tchr and SPED personnel minimum. Once the student begins to fall behind, especially in K-3 reading and Math, the CST kicks in with instructional modifications in the regular ed classroom with formal notification to the parent about all such. Obviously, this requires a district curriculum for K-3 with outcome-based measurements to assure each student is on grade level.No such CST or curriculum in Melrose, so kids go directly to SPED with no systemic intervention. At the opposite end of SPED costs are out of district tuition where informed parents get private-school education at full cost to Melrose taxpayers. All because Melrose no articulated and accountable curriculum to meet student needs. SO, some kids go outside the system, many for some 35-50K a year in taxpayer dollars!! This one gets no scrutiny for public FYI!
Some kids will go outside of the system and need to be outside of the system. No standardized K-3 curriculum is going to be able to address severe needs and prevent an outside placement. Most of these placements are identified early on and the system knows what's coming.
Not at all about kids who need such outside the system. All about legal-minded parents who know how to exploit system's lack of organization toward free tuition outside. A scrutiny of the out-of-district tuition by tuition would show how many are at service-based institutions and how many at prestigious advanced learning centers.
Actually Bob, what is really going on is that the administrators simply refuse to meet the needs of students who most of the time could coexist fairly well in the system (and DO, in fact, in "real" school systems) with just a little or moderate support. But when parents hit a stone wall with our infamous school administrators, they rightfully remind them of their legal obligations to still teach these students (and not just throw them all in a room in the admin wing with the football coach for the day). Now administrators start to play hardball and enlist the city solicitor to make threats against the family and/or criminally extort them into dropping their complaints. Nine times out of ten this works and the family is scared enough to leave town or send their kid to private school on their own dime. One time out of ten, the family fights back and hires a lawyer who reminds the city solicitor and administrators that making threats to file unfounded criminal harassment complaints against parents (and sometimes even the child) in order to extort them into not pursuing their child's educational needs is a criminal offense under Massachusetts General law Chapter 265, Section 25. The city solicitor and school administrators panic and give the parents whatever they need which is usually a private therapeutic school that is willing to meet the child's needs. And that, my friend, is why there are so many outplacements at a huge cost to the taxpayer. Call it bad strategy, incompetent legal council, criminal conduct; it all ends up in the taxpayer's lap in huge legal fees, big settlements and expensive outplacements. But it is not the parents' fault; its the fault of incompetent and uncaring school administrators and unethical city legal council.
Another long-time Melrose city government pattern: crappy legal counsel.
That's all very correct. Well stated. Bottom line is that 10 percent of the SPED students serviced take a major chunk of the entire school budget with the out of district costs. And have parents who are legally smarter and bolder than than school and city staff.