York County school districts share copied statements in response to special education concerns

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
(Logo) empty classroom, truancy. York City School District has struggled with student truancy issues, recently remarking a need for more school attendance officers. The district is considering a grant-funded partnership with York City Police for a truancy officer to help with particularly difficult cases.

The York Dispatch heard from 20 local families from 11 different public school districts about challenges they faced seeking special education in York County. 

We reached out to 10 of the mentioned districts to get their responses to the families' allegations, and, in some cases, to request interviews to discuss their special education programs. The districts largely ignored the interview requests. 

However, seven of the 10 districts provided email statements that were all strikingly similar to one another. Though there was some variance from district to district, a few sentences were near word-for-word copies across the board. 

More:'Nobody at that district cared': York County parents share struggles seeking special education

More:Here's how parents can seek help resolving special education disputes

Bradly Perkins, a spokesperson for the Dover Area School District, one of the seven districts in question, claimed that he drafted his district's statement himself, with help from the superintendent and director of exceptional children. He said he included reworded statements that he has used in the past. 

Below are copies of all seven email statements:

Central York School District

"Our school district is committed to providing services that meet the needs of all of our students. We work collaboratively with our families, faculty, and staff in this endeavor and in the development of plans and practices we may implement in support of student learning. We are not able to discuss specific details related to an individual student’s education due to federal laws regarding the privacy and confidentiality of a student’s educational record. If you are interested in learning more about the process to obtain Special Education Services within a K-12 public school setting, you may find this resource useful: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/parents-families/"

Dallastown Area School District

"Thank you for following up with specifics. Our school district is committed to providing services that meet the needs of all of our students. We work collaboratively with our families, faculty and staff in this endeavor and in the development of plans and practices we may implement in support of student learning. We are not able to discuss specific details related to an individual student’s education due to federal laws regarding privacy and confidentiality of a student’s educational record. If you are interested in learning more about the process to obtain Special Education Services within a K-12 public school setting, you may find this resource useful: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/parents-families/. 

Thank you again for reaching out and have a wonderful day!"

Dover Area School District

"Since we do not have the student’s name regarding the allegation made below, we are unable to investigate the narrative further. Additionally, as you can appreciate, even if we had the student’s name, we could not discuss specific details related to their education due to federal laws regarding the privacy and confidentiality of a student’s educational record. The Dover Area School District is committed to providing services that meet the needs of all of our students. We work collaboratively with our students, families, and staff to develop plans and practices we may implement to support student learning."

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Red Lion Area School District

"I’ve been asked to share the following statement with you:

"Our school district is committed to providing services that meet the needs of all of our students. We work collaboratively with our families, faculty and staff in this endeavor and in the development of plans and practices we may implement in support of student learning. We are not able to discuss specific details related to an individual  student’s education due to federal laws regarding privacy and confidentiality of a student’s educational record. If you are interested in learning more about the process to obtain Special Education Services within a K-12 public school setting, you may find this resource useful: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/parents-families/"

South Eastern School District

"Please understand that PDE has guidelines for class sizes based upon the needs of the children.  For instance, a full time emotional support class can have up to 12 students but a full time autistic support classroom must be capped at 8 students.  So, whether it is our special education classroom or the LIU class, we must follow these guidelines set by PDE.  So, If an LIU class is full (according to PDE’s guidelines), our Special Education Department would need to find an alternate placement for the child (that would meet his/her needs).  I am unsure about the specifics of the situation that you have brought up but understand that we must follow class size requirements outlined in the school code.

While I am unsure about the specific individual you are referring to, our school district is committed to providing services that meet the needs of all of our students. We work collaboratively with our families, faculty and staff in this endeavor and in the development of plans and practices we may implement in support of student learning. We are not able to discuss specific details related to an individual  student’s education due to federal laws regarding privacy and confidentiality of a student’s educational record. If you are interested in learning more about the process to obtain Special Education Services within a K-12 public school setting, you may find this resource useful: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/parents-families/"

Spring Grove Area School District

"Since we are not able to comment on a specific student’s situation, we would like to provide the statement below. If anything else comes up or you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you.

"Statement from the Spring Grove Area School District:

"The Spring Grove Area School District is committed to providing services that meet the needs of all of our students. Each Spring Grove student has their own needs, all of which are considered and addressed on an individual basis. We work collaboratively with our families and staff in this endeavor and in the development of plans and practices we may implement in support of student learning. We are not able to discuss specific details related to an individual student’s education due to federal laws regarding privacy and confidentiality of a student’s educational record."

York City School District

"Thank you for reaching out to us and allowing us to give feedback regarding this. Our response to the claims can be found below. 

"Our school district is committed to providing services that meet the needs of all of our students. We work collaboratively with our families, faculty, and staff in this endeavor and in the development of plans and practices we may implement in support of student learning. The district follows all state and federal mandates according to Chapter 14 Law and IDEA for all students with special needs. We are not able to discuss specific details related to an individual student’s education due to federal laws regarding privacy and confidentiality of a student’s educational record. If you are interested in learning more about the process to obtain Special Education Services within a K-12 public school setting, you may find this resource useful: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/parents-families/"

— Reach Erin Bamer at ebamer@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter @ErinBamer.