WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) --You know it must be an election year when a DC councilman proposes sweeping reforms of special education in the city -- and a spokesman for the Mayor immediately slams it as a stunt.
Councilmember David Catania just introduced three bills to offer more help for the city's struggling special needs students.
Theresa Quattlebaum says she had to get a lawyer to force D-C schools to give her great nephew the help he needed. "He wasn't talking. He wasn't doing anything. He was completely shutdown," she says of now 16 year old Kayvon, whose parents and grandfather had both passed away.
The city's now paying for Kayvon to attend a private school in Rockville. And while it's costing $50-thousand a year or more, it's made a huge difference. "He's just awesome now. He's reading, he's writing. He's doing everything that a normal kid is supposed to do."
DC is paying around $80-million a year to send special education students to private schools because it doesn't have the services for them in house.
Catania turned to the Children's Law Center for help drafting the reforms. "Kids get too little, too late, and too limited. And because of that, too few kids in DC are learning. It's just not enough," says Children's Law Center Executive Director Judith Sandalow.
More special ed help can actually save the city money on out-placements. The reforms would also cut in half the deadline for the schools to offer assistance. And give parents the right to bring an expert into the classroom to figure out what's going wrong.
8 46 50 At one time, I couldn't get two words out of him. Now I can't get him to shut up.
For a lot of children, expert early intervention can do that.
As for the politics of this: A spokesman for the Mayor says Catania's bottled up similar reforms proposed by the Mayor months ago.
He called the councilman's news conference 'an election year stunt.'
Catania's spokesman called that 'preposterous,' and said we should ask the parents if it's a stunt.