DC Decision Dooms Virginia Private School

District pulling 170 special-needs students from Accotink

Friday, Sep 25, 2009  |  Updated 4:10 PM EDT
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DC Decision Dooms Virginia Private School

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Accotink Academy classrooms are going to be mighty lonesome pretty soon.

SPRINGFIELD, Va. -- D.C. officials are pulling 170 special-needs students out of a Springfield private school over concerns about the quality of the education.

The District of Columbia has been paying Accotink Academy to take students for 15 years.

School officials said they weren't told of any concerns, The Washington Post reported. They said the academy's teachers are highly qualified and that the school will fight the decision.

The D.C. children make up the majority of the student body and the school will be forced to close if they leave, academy founder Elaine N. McConnell said. Several parents said they haven't seen problems with the school and worry that switching schools could be disruptive.

Repeated monitoring visits should have tipped the school, D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles told The Post.

"If they couldn't see that what was going on was inappropriate, then they must have been blind."

The academy was unaware of any concerns before notices were sent to parents Tuesday, officials said. D.C. Deputy Chancellor for Special Education Richard Nyankori sent an e-mail about the decision to the school Wednesday.

About 30 percent of the 9,300 special-education students in D.C. are enrolled in private schools because the city can't meet their needs, The Post reported. The cost to taxpayers is about $200 million per year, including about $10 million a year to Accotink. This change isn't expected to save D.C. any money.
 

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