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Public School Superintendent on Admin Leave Following DOJ Investigation

Things are looking pretty grim for Frederick County Public School Superintendent Terry Alban. She’s out on administrative leave. Board member Jay Mason made the announcement but “declined to say whose decision the leave was.”

He’s also not talking about “what prompted it or how long it may last.” It probably has something to do with the DOJ investigation. In any event, “the board met in closed session Tuesday night to discuss personnel matters.”

School Super under investigation

As soon as Mason broke the news, the new school board president Brad Young “also declined to provide further details on Alban’s status.” The public already knows that a DOJ investigation has been running since October 2020. They have some interesting ways of handling unruly students.

The FBI “found the district performed 7,253 seclusions and restraints on 125 students” over two and a half years. It wasn’t all the troublemakers. Only the ones who ride the short bus.

“Nearly all of the affected students” Justice Department prosecutors write, “had disabilities.” The district is about to take a whole lot of legal heat. Some of the kidnapped and tortured students “suffered physical and emotional trauma as a result of their experiences.”

With Alban on the sidelines, “Deputy Superintendent for FCPS Mike Markoe will serve as the school system’s acting superintendent.” Dr. Alban “who has been with the district since 2011, could not be reached for comment.” The board paid her “more than $251,000” a year.

Although board members are staying tight lipped, the news coverage is brutal. Local outlets report that “the change in her status comes after the district reached a settlement following a Justice Department investigation into the school system’s mistreatment of students with disabilities.”

They’re accused of “unnecessarily and repeatedly” secluding and restraining “students as young as 5 years old.”

More than 50 times each

All of 125 disabled students in the school district were targets. Only 1 imprisoned child wasn’t disabled in the whole district. “Although students with disabilities make up only 10.8 percent of students enrolled in the district, every single student the district secluded was a student with disabilities, as were 99 percent — all but one — of the students the district restrained.”

Thirty-four of those students “were secluded or restrained more than 50 times each.”

“We cannot stand by and watch schools put children with disabilities in isolation thousands of times and call it public education,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division notes.

The Frederick County Public School system used seclusion and restraint illegally. It “did not help students; it led to heightened distress and denied them access to a safe and positive learning environment.”

State law and school policy “both require seclusion — in which a student is isolated, often in a padded room, and prevented from leaving — and physical restraint to be reserved for emergency situations.” These instructors used it daily.

The DOJ found FCPS “routinely resorted to seclusion and restraint in non-emergency situations” instead of “using appropriate behavioral interventions. As a result, “students with disabilities were regularly ‘segregated’ from their classmates.” That “resulted in them missing weeks, or in some cases months, of instructional time.”

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