City Schools IEP Concerns Flood Project Baltimore Hotline
BALTIMORE (WBFF) - Project Baltimore has been flooded with calls following a Fox45 report featuring Julie Gaskins. Gaskins is a City Schools mom who expressed serious concerns over her son’s Individualized Education Program, or IEP, which is designed for students with disabilities.
It was a story that struck a nerve and triggered an overwhelming response. One after another, the calls came in to the Project Baltimore hotline.
Caller: “I’m having issues with my son with his IEP. They’re not giving him his services.”
Caller: “Ya’ll just tippin’ the iceberg on this whole education thing.”
Caller: “I have a horror story I can tell you about children’s IEP.”
Caller: “My grandchild that has fallen through the cracks with this IEP program.”
Caller: “I’m sick and tired of acting like these kids don’t have a right to a proper education.”
Caller: “I don’t feel like they’re helping her at all. I feel like they’re just pushing her through.
Caller: “My grandson is 10. He’s in the 4th grade. He’s passed through, through and through but he cannot read and he can hardly write. This is ridiculous.”
Caller: “They did the same thing to my children and now they’re trying to do it to my grandchildren.”
Many of these calls echoed the concerns of Julie Gaskins. Gaskins’ son is in 7th grade at Garret Heights Elementary/Middle in northeast Baltimore. He has an IEP for his vision disability. His school receives extra money to help him. For years, Gaskins has been filing complaints that her son was not getting the help he needed. Then, she received a letter from the State Department of Education explaining how her son’s IEP was designed for a first grader. The letter stated it was a violation of state and federal law.
“If it’s happening to me, I can guarantee it’s happening to other students,” Gaskins told Project Baltimore.
“I know it's happening to other students,” says Tameka Pridget, another Baltimore City parent, who says it happened to her two sons as they bounced around among several City Schools.
“I don't think Baltimore City Public Schools are equipped to handle these IEP's at all,” Pridget says. “I've heard the way the staff members talk about these, about our children and about their IEP's like it's nothing. Like it's a piece of paper. And it's not just a piece of paper."
Like Gaskins, Pridget feels her children’s education has been neglected. At one point, she says her son was in seventh grade and read on a kindergarten level. She says his IEP was simply not being followed.
“Half the teachers told me, ‘I don't have time to do those things in those IEP's. I don't even read over half of these IEP's. I have a whole class of 28 to 32 children to teach,’” explains Pridget.
“After all this time of you blindly thinking you're sending your child to school every day to learn. And come home and find out that they're really just there in a big daycare,” Pridget says. “Sometimes all you really want is an apology for their neglect to your child. But then it's like what will that do? An apology's not going to help.”
Fox45 reached out to North Avenue concerning this story and received this statement:
“City Schools is committed to meeting students’ individual needs with a high-quality education that paves the path to success. For students with disabilities, this commitment includes providing supports and services in compliance with all state and federal regulations. We cannot comment on implementation of an IEP for any specific student, but we can provide assurance that any report of concerns regarding services for students with disabilities will be investigated so that it can be addressed in a timely manner. Regardless of students’ IEP status, we encourage all parents, guardians, and caregivers to speak to their children’s teachers, school administrators, or district office staff if they have questions or concerns. Information about resolving concerns is available on the district’s website.
With respect to the Maryland State Department of Education’s direction to the district in regards to compliance at Garrett Heights Elementary/Middle School, the matter is ongoing and we have no information to share at this time.”