Boston Brings in Team To Revamp Special Education
Boston school officials have agreed for the first time to allow outside consultants help devise a plan for overhauling the district's troubled special-education program.
The agreement, approved in a state court last month, adds another chapter to the 16-year-old lawsuit over the adequacy of services for the more than 7,000 disabled children who attend the Boston schools.
Citing reports that criticized the way those services are managed, the families that brought the original lawsuit asked the court last year to put the special-education program into receivership.
That effort was halted after Mayor Raymond L. Flynn appointed the district's newly constituted school committee in January and the plaintiffs and school officials agreed to work out a mechanism for improving services.
"We found the new school committee was more willing to work with us on a cooperative basis'' than the old elected committee, said Susan Cole, the legal director of the Massachusetts Advocacy Center, which represents the students and parents.
Under the new agreement, approved June 22 by Middlesex Superior Court Judge Catherine A. White, a team composed of three outside consultants and three Boston special-education administrators is charged with devising a plan for improving services by Aug. 31.
The plan will be subject to revisions by Superintendent of Schools Lois Harrison-Jones. But the school system will be required to implement whatever plan is eventually agreed upon. The team will remain in place once the plan is adopted to report on its implementation.
Public Status for Drivers
In a related matter stemming from the lawsuit, Judge White also ordered school officials to make plans to require school-bus drivers transporting disabled students to become public employees by 1994.
The move is intended to end disruptions in bus services for disabled students that are caused when school-bus drivers go on strike.
But the judge turned down the plaintiffs' request to bar the city from signing a two-year transportation contract with a private bus company.