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March 14, 2008

District critical of costs to settle special education litigation

Alan Borsuk:

Private negotiations to settle a lawsuit over how Milwaukee Public Schools handles special education students broke into the open Thursday when MPS rejected a proposal that could extend such services to thousands of students who are suspended from school frequently or held back a grade.

With harsh words particularly for the state Department of Public Instruction, MPS leaders said the proposed settlement could cost tens of millions of dollars, harm the education of students who don't need special education services and interfere with the pursuit of broader goals for improving MPS.

But Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick, an attorney for Disability Rights Wisconsin, which brought the suit in 2001, said the agreement was a "fantastic" opportunity for MPS and that MPS had not negotiated in good faith. He said it was frustration with MPS negotiators that led his organization and DPI to reach a separate settlement and to demand MPS take it or leave it.

The terms of the settlement would put special education in MPS under the control of an outside authority; require MPS to make major improvements in identifying students who need special education services; and potentially extend services to thousands of students.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at March 14, 2008 1:31 PM
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