ESC special education director apologizes for recent statements

LISBON – The director of special education for the county Education Service Center (ESC) on Monday issued an apology letter to the board for “inappropriate” statements she made during their meeting in April.

“In an attempt to explain the complications of the new report card with regard to students with disabilities, I did an unjust and honestly distasteful job,” Cheryl McGrath said. “I am deeply sorry for the misunderstanding and for my choice of descriptors used to identify the smallest population in our schools.”

While discussing the new report card system in April, McGrath mentioned some special needs students’ growth may not be reflected in the new reporting system by saying “their parents don’t expect them to improve a grade level or two each year.”

In her letter, she states, “Every child is in school to learn and grow and it is my personal belief that EVERY child can achieve success and growth. My comments were to express that the growth some students make may not be reflected in the new reporting system.”

McGrath said she also spent personal time with some of the families and got to know them on a more personal level.

The board president, Richard Stoudt, commented on her letter “After seeing your words in context and seeing you work every day, we know your intentions have been good and greatly appreciated,” he said. “Keep up the good work.”

In another matter, the board approved the retirement resignation of consultant Carol Straub, and also set a public hearing for 4:30 p.m. July 22 for the purpose of rehiring her to the same position. A public hearing also will be held that day for Kathy Fife, who retired in May from her position as a speech and language pathologist and will be rehired to the same job.

In other business, the ESC approved:

– Contracts with Kent State, the county Board of Developmental Disabilities and the Columbiana school district.

– A contract with Camp Frederick for a 2014 Outdoor Study Camp for handicapped students