Local News

Durham Schools Settle With Special Ed. Parents

Posted August 18, 1998

— We send our children to school to get an education. But when some Triangle parents thought the needs of their children were not being met in special education programs, they sued. Wednesday, the Durham Public School System settled with parents.

Most of the money from the settlement will go to pay attorneys' fees. There are three other settlements which are confidential. But parents say this isn't about money. This is about getting a better education for their children.

Twelve-year-old Chris Pruitt is a Durham special education student who has come a long way, thanks to supportive parents and dedicated teachers.

"My teachers there are nice, and they help me," Pruitt says.

Chris's parents, Tommy and Karen, say things got better for their son when they joined with other parents in a lawsuit against the school system.

The suit contended that there were not enough qualified special education teachers and that the classes were to big.

"It is a real success for us and for the teachers. I think it will, hopefully, give the teachers more resources to work with our children. That was the whole idea behind the lawsuit, to get more resources for our children," Karen Pruitt said.

Parents of the 21 children dropped the lawsuit when the Durham Public School System agreed to settle the case.

"The settlement is a recognition that the exceptional children's program of the Durham Public Schools can serve better all the children, if we work together," Durham Schools Superintendent Ann Denlinger said.

TheState Department of Public Instructionis also investigating Durham Public Schools for these same issues. By Monday, Durham Public Schools must submit a plan to the State to say how they are going to deal with these problems in the future.

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