Once again Wednesday Journal has printed a letter which is critical of the Oak Park and River Forest High School Special Education Department. It is another letter that is heavy on criticism and light on facts. Ms. [Meg] Reynolds has decided to take issue with the number of students who are in private special education placements [Is D200 special ed budget increase due to poor service? Viewpoints, Oct. 18].
As the mother of a student who was in a private special education placement from seventh grade through his junior year in high school, I question Ms. Reynolds’ understanding of the need for these private placements. While we all acknowledge that all children are individuals and that all special education students have a legal right to have individual needs met, there is a percentage of the special education population that has needs that cannot be met in a building the size of OPRF.
My son, Conor, had begun to slap adults and other random people in the face at a very young age. This was a safety issue for him and everyone he encountered. Obviously, all of the out-placed students don’t share Conor’s habit of going after people’s faces, but what all of these students do share is the right to have their individual needs met.
The suggestion that these children are sent to other facilities because parents “are reluctant to expose their child to a school environment that is hostile to their needs” is ignorant and mean-spirited. I understand that Ms. Reynolds continues to be frustrated by her own child’s placement, but it is wrong to attack the district’s decision to look for specialized facilities for any percentage of its students. Ms. Reynolds should thank God that her son doesn’t have the behavioral or mental health needs of these out-placed students and mind her own business.