"I want to go to school...Why me? Why are they trying so hard NOT to let me go to school?" asks child* in response to denial of Board of Education to enroll him in Montgomery County Public Schools.
The Examiner, Russia Today, WUSA9, USAToday, and Gazette (red indicates update to original blog article) have reported on the plight of a 14 year old Montgomery County resident unable to receive a free public education. That denial of a free public education has kept him out of school for the last two years.
Here are the facts:
- The child is a U.S. citizen - born in California.
- The child lives with his court appointed legal guardian.
- The legal guardian is a resident of Montgomery County.
- On August 25, 2008, Superintendent Weast wrote a memorandum to the Board of Education explaining his basis for denying this child a free public education.
- On September 22, 2008, the Board of Education (President Nancy Navarro) in an unanimous decision voted to affirm the decision of the Superintendent.
"It is my belief that the documents forwarded, as best as I can read them, do not document a crisis that would prevent J- from living with his mother and attending school in Thailand. J- father's monthly salary of 4700 baht is about average in Bangkok, according to the Thai National Statistical Office."Note that child's parents are divorced. 4700 baht's converts to $136 U.S. dollars. The full text of Superintendent Weast's decision is here. The MCPS Board of Education affirmed the decision of Superintendent Weast and "concluded that the matter could be decided without the conduct of an evidentiary hearing, referral to a hearing examiner, or oral argument." The Decision and Order are below.
Section 7-101 of Maryland's Education Article states that:
"...each child shall attend a public school in the county where the child is domiciled with the child’s parent, guardian, or relative providing informal kinship care..."When contacted for a comment on this matter, District 16 Delegate Susan C. Lee and her colleagues Senator Brian E. Frosh, Delegate William A. Bronrott, and Delegate C. William Frick sent a letter dated May 13, 2009, to Superintendent Weast asking him to "please look into this matter and provide us with a complete report."
As of today, this is a Montgomery County child without a school.
UPDATE: Join the new Facebook Group - already over 700 members, to Support this child's right to a free public education!
UPDATE 6/18/09: Press Kit - relevant documents include child's US birth certificate, passport and documents detailing two year struggle to enroll in Montgomery County Public Schools.
UPDATE 6/25/09: Maryland State Board of Education decision in Armour v. Board of Education of Montgomery County, Maryland said,
...we reiterate that it is the educational policy in Maryland, consistent with the constitutional and statutory provisions for free public education, that all children within the borders of this State who are bona fide residents, are entitled to free public school privileges. Only such a policy will assure in this age of great mobility that all children, regardless of the income of their families, will be provided an uninterrupted opportunity for public education.UPDATE 6/26/09: Governor Martin O'Malley's office inquires about this child's inability to enroll in Montgomery County Public School.
UPDATE 6/29/09: BREAKING NEWS - MCPS RELENTS! STUDENT WINS!
*The child's name is not being released by the Parents' Coalition and the documents have been redacted to protect the identity of the child.