Dear Editor,

The Concord Journal's "bombshell" on the front page of last week's issue (“State Won't Pay Share of SPED”) certainly grabbed our attention.  It needlessly distressed the Concord community.  After reviewing the facts, we believe that the article was littered with inaccuracies and inflammatory comments. The actual situation is less dramatic.  

The Journal’s article is based on State Department of Education communications that affect only certain private residential special education placements that fall under a 50/50 state reimbursement program. These students are a small percentage of all out-of-district placements; and some of the residential placements are funded by other state agencies.   By failing to check its facts, the Journal inaccurately reported that cost sharing for all out-of-district private placements is being slashed.  Furthermore, the article’s assertion that “the state will no longer share in the cost of educating” these residential students is also wrong.  Commissioner Driscoll’s memos are clear that the cities/towns will receive most, if not all, of their Fourth Quarter FY03 state cost share reimbursements.  As for FY04, it is premature to state that there will be no reimbursement.  The memos were issued to alert Superintendents of a change in payment procedures – a far cry from a refusal by the state to honor its SPED funding obligations.  (View the memos at our website:

But most disturbing of all were Becky Shannon’s inflammatory comments regarding the upcoming school budget.  Ms. Shannon predicts only doom and gloom because of special education costs. Her ill-informed and insensitive comments have caused others anguish over twisted facts.  Ms. Shannon does not realize that the vast majority of families with children in special education also have children in regular education.  Few are more sensitive to the impact of the cost of special education upon the total school budget than families of special education students.  We work with school officials to identify programs and initiatives that would use our educational resources fairly and efficiently. Elected to represent all of Concord’s residents, it is disappointing to see Ms. Shannon use her office to pit the regular education community against the special education community.  

We caution the Journal to check the facts on controversial issues, and likewise caution Ms. Shannon to avoid creating division were none exists.  The “bombshell” was a dud.  Given current fiscal uncertainty, we urge everyone to turn our collective focus toward finding fair and practical solutions to educating all of Concord’s children.

Melody Orfei & Christine Corr, chairs of The Concord Special Education Parents Advisory Committee (Concord SPED PAC)  


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Last updated January 16, 2003
By Melody Orfei