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Group says ADD kids need help

October 22, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

A group of activists who have been concerned about local school students with attention deficit disorder told the Washington County Board of Education Tuesday night that there is not enough staff to serve the students.

Although many students with attention deficit disorder are intelligent, they are often hyperactive, which is disruptive to other students, said Debbie Pryor of The Parents' Place of Maryland, a nonprofit group that works to help the students.

The students do well if they have one-on-one interaction with teachers, but there is not enough staff to help the kids, officials said.

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Sharon Chirgott, president of the Washington County Teachers Association, said teachers' planning in special education is "rarely in-depth or substantive."

"This is not about politics. It's not about a hidden agenda. It's about a real problem," said Del. Joanne C. Benson, D-Prince George's, who has been bringing the issue to light in recent meetings.

Benson said she will not stand for being painted as an outsider because, "I must speak for children wherever they are."

Benson, who has a nephew with attention deficit disorder in the school system, has said she plans to file a civil suit against the Board of Education for what she alleges is neglect of students.

The board reacted little to the comments Tuesday.

Board President B. Marie Byers told Benson she would ask for the delegate's help "in some other matters."

In a letter to Byers, Pryor said individual education programs for students are not developed correctly. Several cases have escalated to the point where the students have to be sent to Brook Lane Psychiatric Center in Hagerstown, Pryor said.

Pryor told Byers that "railroading" students to Brook Lane concerns many people.

While critical of the school system, Pryor said she is happy to see the school system has been working on the issue. One of the efforts included developing an advocacy team last August to help parents with students with attention deficit disorder.

School officials said the team was not set up as a result of Benson's threat to file suit against the local Board of Education. They said their decision to set up the team was based soley on complaints from parents that their kids were being denied help.

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