Concerns at the Sebring school district - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Concerns at the Sebring school district

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SEBRING, Ohio - On the Facebook site, "Support Sebring Local School District Teachers," one of the issues pulling at heart strings is a post of a letter to the parents of a young girl from the Superintendent of Sebring Local Schools letting her parents know the district will not offer open enrollment to their daughter.

The girl had a medical condition and in the upcoming school year will require special services.

The letter states," I am very sorry to inform you I will not be able to offer open enrollment to you this year regarding your daughter ... Needless to say we are all wishing for a speedy and complete recovery for her. As a school community, we share in sending our thoughts and prayers to ..., as well as you, your husband, and your family."

"However, due to the extremely precarious financial situation in the Sebring Local Schools, we cannot commit to the exceptional educational costs that are inherent with any type of extended illness where home instruction, physical and occupational therapy, psychological services, and continuous evaluation are required. We are simply not financially equipped to take on the costs associated with the kind of education we know you desire for your daughter."

Melinda, a parent with a son who has autism is upset and concerned. She says it's one little girl, so what is more important than her?

"That would be like someone telling me my son's not important. He is important. She is important. She asks if the district turns it's back on this girl, where will it go from there?" she says.

But the district says it must consider finances.

The Superintendent Christopher Lewis talked with 21 News by phone saying, his heart goes out to any family facing this situation.

He is not allowed to talk directly about this student due to privacy laws. Lewis tells us most people don't realize one out of every four students in the Sebring District is on an Individual Education Plan, or IEP.

In some classes, the number is one out of three and that means the special needs programs in Sebring are full.

According to the Mahoning ESC, the cap for state reimbursement is no more than about $25,000 for catastrophic cases, yet costs for the education of one child can run as high as $200,000 a year.

The Treasurer Pete Hill tells 21 News, the district is close to fiscal emergency right now and adds the money Sebring receives for special needs students doesn't begin to cover the additional costs for physical, occupational, speech therapies and other services that might be needed.

Hill says the range is from $20,000 to $70,000 to $100,000 and up depending on the students needs.

The student's parents live in the West Branch School District which has the legal responsibility for her education. However, she had attended Sebring in the past.

Parents also want to know why they have to give advanced notice to speak about their concerns at board meetings since they are paying the taxes.

They are also upset with a teacher being disciplined last year and associated legal expenses.

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