State advocacy group wants role in review of student work-study programs -- Gazette.Net







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The Maryland Disability Law Center said it wants to participate in Montgomery County Public Schools’ review of its work-study programs for students.

In an April 11 letter to Superintendent Joshua P. Starr, managing attorney Leslie Seid Margolis said the legal advocacy organization for people with disabilities has monitored the situation at Rock Terrace School, where parents raised allegations that staff misappropriated money their children earned in work-study programs.

Dana Tofig, a spokesman for the county school system, said in a Tuesday email that the school system was considering the law center’s request to have a representative in the group.

“We are certainly interested in their input and will discuss the best way to get that input and incorporate it into our work,” Tofig said in the email.

The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office is investigating the Rockville school that serves developmentally disabled students.

“We have many concerns about what happened at Rock Terrace, the proposed reimbursement plan, and the work programs themselves,” Margolis said in the letter.

Starr put forward a plan in January to reimburse Rock Terrace students and create a workgroup to review the school system’s work-study programs and recommend whether students should continue to receive payments.

The workgroup, which met for the first time April 7, consists of about eight members, including Rock Terrace Principal Katherine Lertora as well as special education transition teachers, principals and parents from the school system.

The group is scheduled to hold its next meeting May 19 and future meeting dates are under discussion.

The workgroup is “an important first step in trying to fix this situation,” Margolis said in her letter, and the organization would bring “a deep knowledge of disability advocacy and special education law to the table.”

“It is always our goal to work cooperatively with school systems to support policy change when change is needed, as it is here,” Margolis said in the letter.