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A parent's fight to give son a...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A parent's fight to give son a fair chance

This letter is on behalf of my son, J. T., who is a special education student in the Anne Arundel County school system. He is in the third grade at Hillsmere Elementary.

I cannot speak for my son on the challenges he faces every day, but I can speak for myself on the challenges a parent must endure when they have been blessed by a "special" child. I believe the Lord saves special children for special parents, and I am honored to be my son's father.

Dealing with the school system to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for a child is one of the biggest challenges a special-education parent faces. An IEP is designed and redesigned after input from parents, teachers, special educators, administrators, guidance counselors, occupational therapists, doctors, lawyers, psychologists, even the students themselves.

Parents must understand these basic premises:

If allowed to do so by the parent, the child will be "pushed through the system." It is up to the parent to take an active roll in securing an adequate and appropriate education for their children.

Almost no one who is involved in the public education of your child has an unfettered allegiance to the child's well-being. All individual views are subjected to administrative, budgetary or political pressures that, if allowed to, will negatively impact your child's welfare.

The most important thing a parent needs to know is their protected civil rights. As American citizens, we are federally guaranteed an adequate and appropriate education, regardless of race, creed or disability.

As a parent of a Level V special-education child, I feel a very real challenge to my child's civil rights and educational well-being by Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary and his actions in regard to the school board's budget proposal.

Mr. Gary's budget and his comments show an ignorance of the people and services required by federal law. His comments regarding the need for additional school psychologists illustrated a fundamental misunderstanding of the services they provide. The psychologist's primary duty is to test and evaluate the special education student and to interpret the findings for the other members of the IEP Team.

At no time, do they provide therapy or counseling for troubled students. Under Mr. Gary's proposed budget cuts, IEP Teams would be left to manage students, often with very challenging psychological profiles, without adequate professional help.

Even more disturbing is Mr. Gary's refusal to fund special education teachers and assistants to provide the services that are required under federal civil rights legislation.

I would view any curtailment of services because of budgetary constraints as a violation of my son's (or another child's) civil rights.

John T. McGuire Sr.

Annapolis

Explore community before casting it

We want to bring to your attention part of an April 30 article ("19-year-old charged as drug kingpin") that states "drug dealers who flood the impoverished neighborhoods of Brooklyn Park."

We take great offense at that statement. We are all employed at Belle Grove Elementary School. Some of us even live in Brooklyn Park and have for many years. Others of us have family members who grew up here or are still living here.

Ours is a small community school. True, the parents may not be as wealthy or as educated as some other communities, but they are hard-working and caring for the most part. We have students who are children of parents who attended Belle Grove. Some have left the community, only to return to live here again.

We ask that in the future you find out a little more about the community before making unwarranted statements.

The above was signed by 20 staff members of Belle Grove Elementary School, Brooklyn Park.

Boulevard would trade Pasadena's traffic woes

We were originally told the East-West Boulevard would have no effect on the community of Pasadena. We have lived on East Pasadena Road for 60-some years and we know this will have a devastating effect on our area.

Interstate 97 was built to alleviate traffic from Route 2. Millions of dollars was spent on this project. How many stores, houses and property were bought and destroyed for this undertaking?

Part of the Schillenger property (Papa John's) was bought, breaking up land that had been in the family since the 1800s.

At that time, a cloverleaf was to be built at Routes 2 and 10 connecting Route 100 and I-97. All that was needed was a road to connect Routes 10, 100 and I-97.

Now, however, the East-West Boulevard will put traffic back on Route 2 at Pasadena Road. Do the state highway administrators agree with this plan? Apparently, an awful amount of taxpayer dollars have been wasted.

Sometimes, traffic coming out of West Pasadena Road is stopped back to the B&A; bike path. Most of the traffic then makes a left turn onto Route 2 and then, has one block to get on the right to get to Routes 10 and 100.

Then, drivers making the right from East Pasadena Road to go south sit in the intersection hoping to make the turn before being hit by oncoming cars on southbound Route 2.

Accidents are numerous. On May 5, a six-car accident occurred at the intersection. At the same time, one block away was another accident. Later that day, another collision happened. On May 6, at 10: 40 p.m., another accident occurred at Route 2 and Chestnut. On May 7, yet another, at routes 2 and 10. Someone should check at Earleigh Heights Fire Department records to see how many times they are called.

Eventually, because of the East/West Boulevard, East Pasadena Road will have to be overhauled. It is now a failing road but a scenic road. The houses what have been on this road for 50 and 60 years are very close to the road. Widening it would have a main thoroughfare coming to within 15 feet or less of many of the homes.

Pasadena Road is an area of many trees and water areas. Birds and ducks abound. At the end of Pasadena Road is Catherine Avenue, Route 648 and Lake Waterford Park. Going through any of these areas would be detrimental to a very old area of Anne Arundel.

This project should be looked at by the governor; the General Assembly; the Environmental Protection Agency; the division chief of the State Highway Administration, Ron Brown; John G. Gary, the county executive; and all of the council members.

Lorraine E. Warner

Pasadena

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A May 7 article in The Sun about the construction of East-West Boulevard misled readers regarding the road's impact on its Route 2 intersection and several nearby Pasadena intersections.

The ongoing construction of East-West Boulevard and its hiker-biker trail will provide a safe and convenient connection between Route 2 and Veterans Highway. It will improve, though not fix, the intersection of Route 2 and Pasadena Road, and it will ease the pressure on other local roads, including Benfield, Jumpers Hole, Earleigh Heights and Brightview/Obrecht roads.

Although the 1996 traffic study mentioned by The Sun found that the Route 2 intersection will fail after East-West Boulevard is built, the study did not attribute the failure to the boulevard. The study concluded that the intersection fails, and will continue to, until the State Highway Administration widens Route 2.

Likewise, the study found that the intersection of Catherine Avenue and Route 100 would eventually fail with or without East-West Boulevard, because of northbound traffic turning onto Catherine from Route 100 East.

The study concludes that East-West Boulevard would adversely affect the intersection of Route 648, Pasadena Road and Catherine Avenue if the country failed to construct additional turn lanes. Planning and design of the lanes began last year. Construction is expected within the next two years.

John Morris

Annapolis

The writer is a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County land use and environment office.

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