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 […]