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Special education in baltimore

Special Education in Baltimore

Mary Jo Student

Special education in baltimore 1
Special Education in Baltimore 1

Vaughn G. was the systemic reform lawsuit initially filed by MDLC (Maryland Disability Law Center) in the U.S. District Court of Maryland - 1984 on behalf of students with disabilities in Baltimore City Public Schools. 1

MDLC. (2008, January). Chronology of the Vaughn G. case. Retrieved from http://www.mdlclaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/VG-Chronology-1988-January2008.pdf

Beginnings 1983 and 1984
Beginnings – 1983 and 1984

  • In 1983 MDLC filed an administrative complaint with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).

    • Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) put students on waiting lists for assessments and for special education services.

    • (700 students were on a waiting list for psychological evaluations.)

  • MSDE worked with BCPSS to develop a corrective action plan.

    • The situation did not improve.

  • In 1984, MDLC filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of seven students (the Plaintiffs).

    • Assessments were not done according to law.

    • IndividualizedEducation Programs (IEPs) were not implemented within 30 school days.

Consent decree five main elements
Consent Decree – Five Main Elements

A tracking system to help the BCPSS with time line compliance and to be used to produce quarterly reports to the court and to identify students who missed services so they could get make-up services

BCPSS was required to contract with private providers to conduct assessments whenever BCPSS was not able to meet required time lines.

Parents were to be given certain information to help them protect their children’s rights including the due date for completions of assessments, due date for IEP implementation, names of legal services providers, information about the consent decree, and how to take action if assessments or services were delayed.

Each student who suffered a time line violation, that is, a delayed assessment or delayed IEP implementation, had to be offered “compensatory services” (one-for-one make up) for lost services. Parents who were not satisfied with the make up services offered by BCPSS could request arbitration.

A court monitor who was selected jointly by BCPSS and the plaintiffs was appointed to report to the court twice a year on the BCPSS’s progress and to conduct arbitration conferences for students when requested by parents who were not satisfied with the compensatory award.


1988 to 1992
1988 to 1992

  • The Consent Decree was to last 3 years.

  • BCPSS missed all of the deadlines in the original Consent Decree.

  • For example, during the first year that the Consent Decree was in effect, BCPSS reported the following:

    • 414 IEPs for social work services were not implemented on time.

    • 1,036 IEPs for classroom instruction were not implemented on time.

    • BCPSS did not contract with any private social workers or teachers.

    • Only 66 students were offered compensatory awards that year.


2007 2008 through today
2007–2008 Through Today

Dr. Andres Alonso becomes CEO of Baltimore City Schools.

He hires Kim Lewis, Director of Special Education (previously worked with MSDE); viewed BCPSS compliance over the years from the state’s perspective.

They develop an extensive Implementation Plan.

Principals need to submit close to 75 pages of documentation each year to explain their procedures for ensuring their schools are in compliance.

BCPSS finally begins to demonstrate compliance that is recognized and praised by the courts.

What do you see as the status of local compliance today?