Parents of special-needs children discuss public school failings

 Jean McCoubrey and Daniel Cooper at Chestnut Hill Library on Saturday. (Desirae Holland/for NewsWorks)

Jean McCoubrey and Daniel Cooper at Chestnut Hill Library on Saturday. (Desirae Holland/for NewsWorks)

Rebecca Grant says she has been battling to get her 19-year-old son the education he needs since he was in second grade.

Now her son, Grant, is in the 10th grade at Roxborough High school. Rebecca, the mother of two and a member of Special Parents of Exceptional Children (SPEC) — a grassroot organization meant to provide information for parents of special needs children — is currently seeking legal help to help him get what he needs.

Familiar with the battles of educating children with special needs a group of 10 to 15 parents gathered for an informational meeting at the Chestnut Hill Library on Saturday curated by Jean McCoubrey, director of SPEC.

McCoubrey joined SPEC when her severally disabled son was 11. Her son, who is now 25, attended Philadelphia public schools until he was 21.

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“While some teachers were great, some were mediocre, so my son’s overall educational experience was satisfactory,” said McCoubrey.

Daniel Cooper, an attorney devoted to special education and advocacy services, expressed that under federal regulation public and charter schools must have programs that caters to children with special needs. Services include, but are not limited to, transportation, speech therapy, physical therapy and audiology services.

Cooper noted that while legislation is set up to ensure children with disabilities receive proper free public education, his practice is in high demand because many schools are not abiding by the rules.

Cooper said often schools fail to properly identify children in need of special education. When teachers notice a child having a hard time in the classroom, they are required to seek out an evaluation for the child, said Cooper.

Often, that doesn’t happen.

Students gets passed along year after year either with poor grades or being labeled with a behavorial problem. 

The meeting provided parents with resources, advocacy advice and support. 

For more information on SPEC, email director Jean McCoubrey.

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