Excerpt from: Washington Post (click for full article)
Seth turns 9 on Saturday. He is a radiant child who often looks better than he feels. He was born nearly four months prematurely and weighed 15 ounces at birth.
He has many medical issues, including bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a chronic lung disease. He has been hospitalized often. He is fed by a tube. His school-related disabilities — difficulty speaking and processing information and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder — have sparked a legal battle between his parents and the Montgomery County Public Schools.
Such fights are sadly common in U.S. schools. Children with disabilities are entitled to special-education services, but sometimes educators and families don’t agree what those services should be. Lawyers are hired. Tax dollars and retirement savings are spent. Seth’s parents and Montgomery County have been at it for 16 months, with no end in sight.
Seth’s maternal grandfather, retired Montgomery County social worker Steve Zepnick, told me about the case. Both sides let me see their legal arguments. Like everyone involved, I want Seth to get a good education. But I am not sure how to do that. The administrative and legal systems seem unlikely to inspire agreement. Is there something else we could do?
Administrative Law Judge Brian Zlotnick ruled in December that Seth’s two months at Little Bennett Elementary School in Clarksburg in 2009 proved that a regular public school was the best place for him. He attended a kindergarten class with 21 other students, some with disabilities.