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State Ed Board Candidate: Special Needs Students ‘Should Be Educated Separately’

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) J.D. Miles
J.D. is an award-winning reporter who has been covering North T...
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RICHARDSON (CBSDFW.COM) – A comment by a political candidate has touched a nerve with parents of special needs students.

That candidate is running in a North Texas district for a place on Texas’ State Board of Education.

In a questionnaire posted to conservative websites teabook.org and libertylinked.com, Gail Spurlock answered a question about mainstreaming special education students by saying:

“Our schools should not be used as therapy centers. If special education students can participate without disrupting the rest of the class, or without excessive expense, they should be in regular classrooms. But if the disabilities cause disruption or excessive expense they should be educated separately.”

Lori Eason and dozens of other parents with autistic kids say they are offended by Spurlock’s comments.  “Shame on her. Those were my exact words,” says Eason. “I took offense to that, because we should provide therapy to our children.”

Jeff Belloni says his nine-year-old autistic daughter Sophie’s occasional disruptions are no reason to keep her from attending school in Lewisville.  “She’s one of the kids that they’re talking about, she’s one of those people that can disrupt a classroom and that can cause problems” says Belloni, “It just shows a lack of compassion toward other human beings.”

Spurlock is running in a district that stretches from Collin County to the Park Cities.  “I’m glad they brought their concerns to my attention,” she told CBS 11. “I’ll address it on my website.”

Child education experts say special needs students more often find acceptance and improvement in public schools.  “I think the trend for a number of years has been to include special needs children in the regular classroom,” says Susan Hoff, United Way.

Upset parents say they also don’t have the money for home or private schooling.

Spurlock’s comments in the same interview promoting more programs for gifted students only adds to the aggravation of parents determined to give their autistic children every chance to achieve.

*Editor’s note – in an earlier version of this story CBSDFW reported the questionnaire Spurlock responded to was from the Collin County Conservative Republicans.  A spokesperson with the group says the questionnaire was not from their organization.

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