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Darien Times editorial: Moving forward

Something is clearly wrong when nearly 150 people show up to a meeting to discuss their concerns with special education. Story after story, each more appalling than the next, brought tears to the eyes of those who had felt similar emotions as they helplessly watched their children’s education slip away.

But those tears challenged the power of the pouring rain outside and the validity of past assertions made by the district administration and the Board of Education, who had claimed everything was fine. The people who showed up to that meeting should be commended for their courage. They are true heroes, and they represented democracy in its most potent form.

Something is clearly wrong. It appears, also, that no town leaders have stepped up to really understand the depth of egregiousness that now lends tremendous weight to parents’ allegations — claims that have been minimized by the district, the Board of Ed, and the schools’ attorney.

It’s not one or two parents. It’s not a dozen. It’s not even two dozen. It’s over a hundred. Fathers and mothers of the most vulnerable children in town, afraid that their kids won’t even get a basic education.

For an affluent town — with resources and talent to provide not only what’s appropriate, which is the law, but also the best, which is its internal charge — it’s appalling.

It’s impossible to know, also, how many more children might have been affected — children whose parents did not attend the meeting. It’s quite likely this is merely the tip of the iceberg.

How can a town that prides itself on education, having the best high school in the state of Connecticut, let its most vulnerable children slip through the cracks?

These children are not stupid. Often, they are bright, sometimes gifted. Albert Einstein may have been dyslexic. Thomas Edison was rumored to be hyperactive and not smart as a child. Some say Leonardo Da Vinci had ADD and dyslexia. Other successful people with learning disabilities include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Winston Churchill, Pablo Picasso and Whoopi Goldberg.

These children simply learn differently. Their brains are wired differently.

But regardless, every child is entitled to an appropriate education under federal law. If that is not happening, then sweeping changes must occur.

Silence from the Board of Ed has been deafening. Complaints from residents that The Times’ coverage of this issue has been excessive only further fuels this newspaper’s directive to root out the truth and provide readers with comprehensive coverage of what could be the worst education debacle the town has ever faced — and hopefully ever will face.

Town leaders have a responsibility to step up to the plate and take whatever action is necessary to ensure the alleged violations end immediately, and that children are given the services they need. The chips have fallen, it’s time to either cash in or fold.

It’s time to move forward, to teach Darien children with the kind of compassion they all deserve. It’s time to work together as a town and begin the healing process. It’s time for a change.

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  • strongwoman

    Resources for public education are not unlimited. Local taxpayers already spend three times as much for a “special needs’ pupil as for a normal student. That is unfair. Expenditures for all students must be equalized. If there must be imbalances, they have to be in favor of the best and the brightest. That is just common sense, the only way to get the best return on our investment of tax dollars. If any parents want more than their fair share of the public purse, let them pay for it our of their own pockets.

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