For the 13,000-odd Baltimore City public school students with special needs, and for their overworked teachers, the settlement of Vaughn G. et al. v. the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, announced in March, is progress. The suit, filed in 1984, sought to force city education officials to follow a 1975 law requiring individualized education plans for children with learning and other disabilities. It might have gone on much longer if not for School Superintendent Andres Alonso's determination to get it settled. For plaintiff Vaughn Garris, now 40 and serving life without parole for murdering his next door neighbor, the settlement means little. But for the rest of us it's an illustration of the tragedy of justice delayed.