.

Out-of-District Tuition Plan 'Discriminatory'

Letter from the ACLU indicates that Barrington schools could face a legal challenge based on discrimination if it does not accept students with special needs.

Barrington’s proposed out-of-district student tuition program is on tonight’s agenda for the School Committee meeting. Chairman Patrick Guida’s comment in Barrington Patch that any legal issues could “shelve” the proposal is expected to take center stage because of a letter from the RI chapter of the ACLU that says the proposed program already appears discriminatory.

The letter from ACLU executive director Steven Brown to Superintendent Robert McIntyre says that a number of laws prohibit schools from discriminating against students with disabilities, according to several online sources, including wrnieducationblog.

“While in some circumstances schools may have some leeway in dealing with special-needs students, such as when significant problems might arise in providing them necessary accommodations, we are not aware of any basis whatsoever for a school to have a policy of automatically and categorically excluding special education students from an enrollment policy,” said Brown according to wrnieducationblog.

“The Barrington School Department has no obligation to establish a special program to accept students from out-of-town, but once it does so, it cannot simply declare students with disabilities off-limits,” said Brown according to rifuture.org.

 “While in some circumstances schools may have some leeway in dealing with special-needs students, such as when significant problems might arise in providing them necessary accommodations, we are not aware of any basis whatsoever for a school to have a policy of automatically and categorically excluding special education students from an enrollment policy. Such blatant discrimination flies in the face of the numerous laws designed to treat such students equally, not segregate or stigmatize them.”

The out-of-district tuition program is expected to add about $127,000 in new revenue for the schools even though criteria for the program and other details still need to be finalized.

Guida has already said in Patch that the schools are not averse to educating students with special needs from out of the district, but the cost of that education would have to be handled on a case-by-case basis -- not the district's $12,800 per pupil expenditure.

Local Mom May 18, 2012 at 08:42 AM
Reminder that Financial Town Mtg is this Wed 23rd at 730p. BTW, standing vote for this meeting needs to go away and fast. People need to be able to vote on budget without feeling as though they have a target on their backs. The high property taxes in this town are a tremendous deterrent to new buyers. Even if you look at the lowest priced homes that are currently on the local market (starter homes or potential rental property), they're not selling. I've heard from friends and relatives who once considered moving to Barrington - they say, I can't afford the taxes - read: can't afford as new homeowner, can't cover in rental costs if landlord, everyone knows taxes usually go higher every year, teachers great but too highly paid, town of Barrington amenities not worth it. The Sowams housing plan could crush resources on that side of town....if they can sell the homes.
Mocktheworld May 18, 2012 at 11:17 AM
15 years ago I moved back to Barrington, to the house I grew up in. The taxes on the house were $2200, now they are $5400. We are a couple of years from retirement and are seriously debating whether we'll be able to afford to stay. I was born here, married in our back yard 36 years ago. It will be a sad day when we have to sell this house and move JUST due to the expense of taxes!
Gary Morse May 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Pamela, We have reached a breaking point here in Barrington, and our council leadership has not figured out this math. There was a time in the past that there could be a little financial excess in the US and State economies where a little discretion could be had by politicians. The line "if you have to ask about the taxes, you can't afford to live here" played out in realtor speak. Now EVERYBODY is asking about the taxes. Just as business now views RI as a pariah state, Barrington's loose ways will also impact us negatively. Consider that million dollar listings are still hot in Narragansett and Newport where tax rates are far lower than in Barrington. It takes many years for damage to occur, but once you sit at the "event horizon", it takes years to recover.
Mocktheworld May 18, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Sadly, if we move, it will NOT be to another RI community.
B/STOCK May 18, 2012 at 06:22 PM
You have a lot of company Pamela. The only problem is selling in this market. Once buyers find out the taxes they are gone.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »