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Bartlett has little to say

July 27, 2000

Bartlett has little to say



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


Washington County Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr. wasn't saying much Thursday about Circuit Judge John H. McDowell's comments in court that Bartlett was evasive last week when testifying with the future of the Job Development Center.

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McDowell said Wednesday that Bartlett was "evasive" at best and "at worst, perjurious" during a hearing for a 16-year-old illiterate teenager who made a series of false fire calls.

Bartlett wouldn't officially respond to McDowell's remarks Thursday but said the School Board is doing what's best for its students. Last week Bartlett testified that the School Board had no plans to shut down the Job Development Center.

The teenager was removed from the Job Development Center earlier this year and placed in South Hagerstown High School. McDowell said the reason the teenager acted out was because he was frustrated over the transfer.

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McDowell also said he believed the School Board was trying to deceive the court about the fate of the Job Development Center and that other school employees who testified were afraid to admit to it.

"I believe Judge McDowell is doing everything he knows how to do for the student," Bartlett said. "I hope we can come together so the student receives every opportunity he deserves to be a good citizen."

School Board members and administrators backed Bartlett's claims and said there have been no talks to close the Job Development Center.

Board member J. Herbert Hardin said School Board members asked Bartlett about five months ago if he intended to shut down the Job Development Center after staff changers were made there.

He said two head teachers were to be removed and two principals would be hired to save money. In the past, one principal served the Job Development Center and Marshall Street School. A head teacher was in charge in each school when the principal wasn't around.

The school system recently hired two principals, retained one head teacher, but did not keep the other, Hardin said.

"We have asked point blank, and (Bartlett) told us he did not see in the near future that we wouldn't have it," Hardin said. "My belief is that the superintendent intended to have the Job Development Center for the next year or two."

While she also denied the center would close, Martha Roulette, director of student services, said Wednesday night she didn't think enrollment would increase. She said the program would remain small.

Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the School Board is required to place students in the least restrictive environment, according to School Board President Paul Bailey.

Hardin said that push for mainstreaming, or inclusion, by the federal government could be what's causing placement concerns.

"This may be an example of over-extending that mainstreaming," Hardin said.

Bailey dismissed talk of the center closing as rumors.

"We have not openly or publicly even talked about a closing," Bailey said. "Rumor is a key word here. That's where it started - as a rumor."

Board member Edwin Hayes called McDowell's comments "strange." He said during his first year as a School Board member the board reversed a decision to close the Job Development Center.

"There is nothing formal," Hayes said. "There were no formal discussions on closing JDC. I don't understand what McDowell is doing. I think it's kind of strange."

Bartlett testified last week that the School Board would continue to mainstream students into job training in the community but said the Job Development Center would remain open.

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