Flint Schools Overwhelmed by Special Education Needs After Lead Crisis

Parent advocate Maxine Onstott, shown cuddling with her son Maximilliano, 6, said many families are having a hard time getting help for their children’s disabilities in the wake of the water crisis.
—Brittany Greeson for Education Week

Flint, Mich.

Years after reports surfaced of alarmingly high lead levels in the water system, the toll of the crisis is becoming clear: At least 1 in 5 students in Flint’s public schools are eligible for special education—and the school system is buckling under the weight of federal requirements and costs for providing programs and services.

The percentage of special education students has increased by 56 percent, rising from 13.1 percent in 2012-13, the school year before the water crisis began, to 20.5 percent last school year.

Schools are understaffed. Teachers are overwhelmed. Parents are frustrated.

"It’s been a fight," said Maxine Onstott, a leader of a citywide special education parent-advocate group. Her autistic 6-year-old son, Maximilliano, began kindergarten this month. "There [are] a lot of children right now that are not getting the services they need and that are not getting the support they deserve to get from the schools."

The fallout in Flint could foreshadow problems in other districts. Schools across the country have found […]

Summary
In Flint, Schools Overwhelmed by Special Ed. Needs in Aftermath of Lead Crisis
Article Name
In Flint, Schools Overwhelmed by Special Ed. Needs in Aftermath of Lead Crisis
Description
The percentage of special education students has increased by 56 percent, rising from 13.1 percent in 2012-13, the school year before the water crisis began, to 20.5 percent last school year.
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Education Week
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