Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Special District's Questioners Haven't Heard Enough Senators Schedule More Hearings for In-Depth Testimony

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Special District's Questioners Haven't Heard Enough Senators Schedule More Hearings for In-Depth Testimony

Article excerpt

Missouri senators investigating the Special School District have some more questions for administrators and elected officials who run the public school system for disabled students.

The senators penciled in additional hearings at the end of the month at the University of Missouri at St. Louis: 1 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 25 and 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 26.

Superintendent Ronald W. Rebore and Board President Jerry Eichholz are among those who will be called back to testify again, said Sen. Wayne Goode, D-Normandy, chairman of the committee investigating the district. "We want to talk to them in more depth," Goode said.

On Wednesday, senators concluded 30 hours of hearings at which 75 witnesses testified. Board members, administrators, parents, teachers and others interested in the district sketched a picture of a troubled school system.

Among the allegations:

The school district is flirting with financial ruin.

Board members are tied to special interest groups, among them disabled students' parents and employees.

Top administrators lack leadership.

The school board is divided.

On the other hand, witnesses said:

The district struggles to work more cooperatively with local school districts.

Critics are exaggerating the district's financial difficulties. "The district isn't broke," Rebore said.

Parents and teachers who testified praised the district's ability to provide special education in the classroom.

At the hearings, senators repeatedly tried to knock down a persistent rumor that their committee planned to dismantle the Special School District.

"Some folks want to deflect our attention away from the real issues and run the rumor we are here to abolish the district," said Goode. "It is absolutely not true."

District supporters, including employees and parents, blamed the media and the district's critics for the rumor. Yet in an attempt to get students' parents to attend the hearings and support the district, the teachers had sent home a flier suggesting senators would eliminate the district. …

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