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Bartlett denies JDC closing

July 19, 2000

Bartlett denies JDC closing



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


Summoned to testify in court Wednesday about the future of the Washington County Job Development Center, Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr. said he has no plans to close the school that serves older special needs students.

Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell questioned Bartlett about allegations that School Board personnel were told not to place students at the center even if they needed the specialized skills training offered there for retarded and challenged students.

Bartlett's testimony came during what was to be a delinquency hearing for a 16-year-old Hagerstown boy accused of pulling false fire alarms. Information from the hearing, including whether the Job Development Center would remain open, was intended to help the judge determine placement for the youth.

The teenager, who failed to appear at Wednesday's hearing, was described as having an IQ of 60 and being on a first-grade reading level. He has been assigned to attend South Hagerstown High School.

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"There were discussions but I can't recall telling anyone not to place students at the center," Bartlett said from the witness stand.

Elisha Elliott, a Frederick attorney representing the youth, testified Wednesday she attended a meeting at South High on May 24 regarding her client. At that meeting, she asked about the possibility of her client being sent to the center at 22930 Federal Lookout Road in Smithsburg, she said.

"I was told the center was closing by someone in that room and three or four others there agreed," Elliott said.

Curtis Judd, a Department of Juvenile Justice employee, testified he was at that meeting and remembered being told the center was being closed.

Assistant South High principal John Davidson testified he was at the May 24 meeting and didn't recall a statement about the center closing being made.

"We heard rumors over the years but no definite plan," Davidson said. "I wasn't discouraged from recommending the center."

Carol Sager, Cheryl Lannon and Karla McGough, special education specialists, also denied being discouraged from or discouraging others from placing youth at the center.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Duane Gigeous asked Bartlett if outside job training was being pushed rather than training within schools.

"We look at the child's needs as the child gets older," Bartlett said. "At some stage in life, we try to develop placement in the community."

Bartlett said that in an ideal world, neither the center nor Marshall Street School would be needed.

"It's the goal but the fact is, that won't happen," Bartlett said, acknowledging the two facilities are the most expensive to run.

Marshall Street School in Hagerstown has programs for those ages 3 to 21, including intensive services for students with severe disabilities.

The center provides vocational training for young adults, typically ages 16 to 21.

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