Monday, May 19, 2008

Girl's fear of school costs district thousands

Another in a long line of mental illnesses which are completely BOGUS. A phobia of attending school; give me a BREAK.

I guess NOW the so called homophobs can qualify under the ADA

Girl's fear of school costs district thousands

Palmerton Area money used for teen magazines, camp, airfare and modeling school.

Trauncy Fines

Rebecca Maykish, 17, works on an abstract portrait in her Palmerton home. She has never attended school consistently due to acute school phobia. Rebecca and her mother Barbarra Maykish are being served with truancy fines. (Kevin Mingora/The Morning Call)

Rebecca Maykish is 17 and dreads school so much that she stopped going regularly.

In fourth grade.

Those days off have come at a price to her school district and the Palmerton taxpayers who support it. Since 2004, the Palmerton Area School Board has authorized payments of more than $45,000 to help Rebecca make up for her missed school days. Rebecca's mother, Barbara, has used the money for at-home tutoring and education software purchases. She has also spent it on modeling classes for Rebecca, subscriptions to teen magazines, and travel to New York and Toronto with a summer camp.

All of the expenses were approved by the district.

Until December, Rebecca's education was paid through a compensatory education fund, which is supported through local property taxes and controlled by the school board. Compensatory education funds are distributed to students whose school districts have failed to give them an appropriate education, as required by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Compensatory education fund

In 2004, a special education hearing officer with the state ordered the district to set up a compensatory education fund for Rebecca, according to Fred Stanczak, Barbara Maykish's attorney. Maykish and Palmerton Area school officials agreed in a private meeting to compensate Rebecca for 1,000 hours of missed instruction, at a rate of $45 an hour, Stanczak said.

The agreement allowed Barbara Maykish to spend the money on anything that would be educational, therapeutic or enriching, which gave her wide discretion, Stanczak said. The fund hit the $45,000 cap in December.

State education officials say they have no control over compensatory education funds and do not know how many exist. The Allentown District has a $57,000 fund set up for a special education student, said Superintendent Karen Angello. She would not disclose the nature of the student's need but did say the district has never set up a compensatory education fund for a student with school phobia.

The Bethlehem Area and Easton Area districts currently have no compensatory education funds in their budgets.

Scott Engler, special education director for the Palmerton district, said school officials had little say over how the money in Rebecca Maykish's fund was spent.

''The expenditures were paid under the terms of an order that gave virtually total discretion to the parent to determine what was educationally necessary,'' he said.

Last spring, about seven months before Rebecca Maykish's fund ran out, she left a California boarding school that she had attended for part of the 2006-07 school year. The district followed up with truancy notices.

Since then, Rebecca has been fined $1,900 and her mother $11,329 for truancy. In March, a district judge ordered Barbara Maykish to pay $8,000 for the 80 days that Rebecca missed this year.

''It's been really bad. I have my house for sale (to pay the fines) ... (But) when she did go to school, she would cry nonstop,'' Maykish said as she sat in the living room of her Lehigh Avenue home with her two Japanese Chin lap dogs and a Boston terrier nearby.

Rebecca says she's not lazy, but the thought of going to school has made her sick with anxiety. So she has just stayed home.

A 'long-standing' phobia

According to a psychiatrist and psychologists who have evaluated her, she suffers from an emotional disorder called school phobia, or school refusal.

In 2004, an Orefield psychiatrist noted in a report -- which Barbara Maykish shared with the The Morning Call -- that Rebecca had a ''generalized anxiety disorder'' that made her fear school.

''This is a young lady who has long-standing school phobia,'' wrote Dr. Larry Dumont, who recommended that Rebecca receive at-home instruction. read more.....


Kevin Craig said...

If half of what I've heard about government-run schools these days is true, I'd be afraid too. Very afraid.

$45,000 to make up for grades 4-12 comes out to about $5,625/yr, which is way lower than what the taxpayers would have had to pay for her to go to classes at school.

Maybe we can start a "taxpayer revolt" by creating a school phobia movement among youth! Maybe Hannah Montana can tell a sad story and get it rolling.

tom said...

I stand corrected

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