Monday, June 08, 2009


Parents have to fork up thousands to pay for ordered summer school for special needs students.

by Larry Geller

Since the end of the Felix Consent Decree, a decade-long settlement of the 1993 Felix vs. Waihee lawsuit by special needs parents against the Department of Education, and the Department of Health, anecdotal reports are that the DOE has regressed and that services to some children have been cut. I know, I know, “anecdotal reports” are not solid evidence.

It would take a dedicated team of reporters to interview parents and see if the reports are real. That’s not likely to happen, with newspaper budgets shrinking here as elsewhere. Also, parents fear retaliation if they speak out. Bob Rees would have done it, I suspect, but Bob is no longer with us.

But here’s an anecdote for you that is supposed to air on tonight’s KHON news. So it’s really not disappeared news, but sort of soon-hopefully-to-appear news.

I don’t know how the story will go, but basically, the word is that the DOE did not pay to send seven special needs students to summer school as ordered by a hearings officer in March. So the parents had to pay out thousands of dollars of their own. I understand the latest is that they may get it back. There’s nothing like some embarrassing news coverage to shake things loose at the DOE. Actually, I don’t know the details, I’m going to tune in to KHON news tonight myself to learn about it.

While I’m open to hearing from parents about situations they have run into, it really would not shed much light on whether or not the DOE is in compliance with federal law or has backslid. While the Consent Decree was in progress there were publicly available statistics and the vigilance of the Felix attorneys. All that is gone now.

I am checking on the accuracy (or lack thereof) of some reports that DOE submitted to the feds, and if that proves interesting, I’ll let readers know.



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