The Baltimore school district has made steps toward improving special education services, according to a special master who has been overseeing a 25-year-old court case.
Vaughn G., et al., v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore began as a way to address delayed evaluations for students with disabilities, a violation of the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.
Eventually, the 82,000-student district agreed to create systems that would eliminate the delays in evaluation and improve the special education program overall. However, it failed to meet any of the deadlines agreed to in the original consent decree. Several additional agreements between the district and the lawyers representing students with disabilities have attempted to resolve the deep-rooted problems, with little success.
This month, the special master overseeing the case, Amy Totenberg, wrote a report to the court saying the district has improved its services, particularly in the area of educating elementary students in the least-restrictive environment, as required by the IDEA. The report focused on progress made through the 2007-08 school year.
Ms. Totenberg credited the leadership of schools CEO Andres Alonso and the Maryland Department of Education, which voluntarily became a party to the case.
The state sent a group of experts to Baltimore to help the school district revamp areas such as transportation, information technology, and student services.
A version of this article appeared in the March 18, 2009 edition of Education Week