Commentary: Special education is more complex than many realize

Despite being told her son, Brandon, would never learn to read, Donna Berman persisted in her quest to find an appropriate education setting for him where he could thrive. Brandon died Sept. 10, 2017, at the age of 19.

Editor’s note: The Orlando Sentinel recently published commentary arguing that private schools that accept vouchers discriminate against children with special needs. A Volusia County parent of a special needs child begs to differ. Donna Berman’s son, Brandon, who had autism and a brain tumor as well as muscular dystrophy and seizures, was denied admission to a local public school. Berman tells Brandon’s story in a response to the Sentinel, published Thursday, noting that until Brandon received a Gardiner Scholarship to attend a private school, he was “a space-age kid stuck in a stone-age system.”

Special education is a complex topic, dealing with dozens of laws, hundreds of unique needs and thousands of children across the state. It’s a topic that deserves better and deeper discussion than recently presented.

A recent column by Scott Maxwell (“Voucher schools can reject kids with disabilities,” Aug. 7) argued that private schools can discriminate against children with disabilities. However, individual public schools can also reject students with disabilities. I know this from personal experience. Worse still, the column was published while Volusia County public schools are under investigation by the Justice Department for discriminating against students with autism.

Read more here.

To read more about Brandon, click here.