Harry Fogle retires; the lawsuit doesn't
It's funny how what seems like big news one day fades from the public consciousness over time. Three summers ago, I wrote several front-page stories about a federal judge's order for the state to send in a team of administrators to manage special ed in Baltimore. The school system made it sound like a partial state takeover was about to happen. Harry Fogle, the head of the team, might as well have been wielding an ax when he arrived from Carroll County, from the way some people characterized the situation.
Then the gubernatorial election passed, and the warfare between MSDE and BCPSS subsided. Dr. Fogle is retiring today, and in the past three years, he never became a household name. His style was friendly and collaborative, and he seemed to enjoy working behind the scenes more than he did being in the spotlight. During his time in Baltimore, services to special education students have improved, and as he leaves, the state is scaling back on its intervention.
But the special education lawsuit continues, and so do the bills associated with it. Even with fewer state managers, the school system next year will pay about $725,000 for the intervention, plus (as I reported yesterday on this blog) at least $425,000 for its own lawyers, plus the salaries of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, plus the cost of the special master's office. Before the lawsuit can end, the system must show improved outcomes for students with disabilities, and those outcomes (i.e., the graduation rate) are still dismal. For Vaughn G., the child for whom the suit was named in 1984, retirement is still a ways off.