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SEPARATION ANXIETY

Kathy Walters, a nurse, worries about what will happen to her son. Dustin, an eight-year-old with a learning disability, attended Fletcher Miller before arriving at Stony Creek two years ago. This year he has attended first grade with typical kids. The only time he leaves the classroom is for about one hour each day, for physical therapy and a special speech lab.

"He loves it," says Walters. "He feels more of a sense of belonging, feels more in tune with his classmates--that they're his friends."

Under Jeffco's new plan, however, next year Dustin is slated to attend Peiffer Elementary. So far, Walters says the principal has told parents that their disabled children will attend a typical homeroom but that they may have to be pulled out for special instruction with the other disabled kids.

"My concern," she says, "is that they will take Dustin out of his 100 percent inclusion program and put him in a self-contained program where he might get to spend part of his day with typical kids."

Ordinarily, kids who want to may petition to attend the school of their choice under Jeffco's open-enrollment policy. Not handicapped kids, however: Open enrollment doesn't apply to them.

Meanwhile, Fletcher Miller and Spinks have begun fighting back. Last month a local television station covered the parent protest against the Council on Exceptional Children. The reporter briefly mentioned that they were fighting against antiquated segregated schools like Fletcher Miller.

Furious, Spinks called the station and suggested a follow-up story about how essential his school is and how it represents just another choice for parents with disabled children in Jefferson County. At the end of the story, which aired two weeks ago, the television cameras caught a student who suddenly began having a seizure. After viewing the show, Spinks noted that it was a fine example of why Jeffco needed Fletcher Miller.

end of part 2

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