Letters to the Editor, Nov. 13, 2018

Facts were wrong!

It is unfortunate that the Dorchester Banner has fallen short of accepted standards of journalism in its recent article “Student Advocate is Barred, Re-Admitted to Public School” dated Nov. 7, 2018, regarding a dispute between Julie Yankovich and Dorchester County Public Schools. If an issue is deemed important enough to merit prominent placement on the paper’s front page, it should be considered important enough to be written factually and clearly.

The article states that on March 17, 2017, following a contentious Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting in which Ms. Yankovich was present to advocate for a student, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Diana Mitchell sent her a letter “banning her from any school-related property, due to ‘inappropriate and intimidating behaviors’ she exhibited during that morning’s meeting.” This is not true. In fact, Dr. Mitchell did not work for Dorchester County Public Schools at that time, joining the county as Superintendent of Schools on July 1, 2017.

Dr. Mitchell did not ban Ms. Yankovich and was not part of any complaint to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Dr. Mitchell’s only involvement in this issue was to rescind the ban in June 2018, as ordered in the OCR ruling made that month, all of which your reporter was told prior to the article’s publication.
Also regrettable is the fearmongering tone of the article which may cause parents of younger students or those recently identified with special needs unnecessary worry.

On what evidence do you write that “. . . there is so often a dispute regarding what is best for a young person?” Decisions regarding the support of students with special needs are made in conjunction with parents/guardians, school-based personnel, mental health professionals, and personal test results. The very large majority of these decisions are made through amicable partnerships in which school and parent/guardian agree on the best way forward for the child. Parents should not worry about the need to retain an attorney and the threat of large legal bills. This is not an adversarial process.

The Dorchester County community can be assured that the school system takes seriously the job of ensuring an appropriate education for our children – all 4,809 of them.

Yours truly,
Valerie Goff
Communications and Community
Outreach Specialist
Dorchester County Public Schools

Blues on the Bay
was meaningful

The 8th annual Blues on the Bay to benefit the Macky and Pam Stansell House of Coastal Hospice at the Ocean was especially meaningful as it was held just months before the house opens to patients in early 2019. This event also marked the launch of our “Put Your Name On It” campaign. The campaign provides new opportunities for individuals to donate any amount to be a part of the naming of two patient rooms and a work room of the hospice residence.

The Stansell House will serve our most vulnerable hospice patients. They will receive quality care with the comforts of home and picturesque views of the Ocean City skyline and the Isle of Wight Bay. Events such as Blues on the Bay have been integral in the effort to raise funds and awareness about this critical new hospice facility for the Lower Shore.

A total of 200 people came to the event at Macky’s Bayside Bar & Grill on Sept. 19 to support the Stansell House. We shared a first in a series of videos about the house and launched the “Put Your Name On It” campaign, which extends room-naming opportunities to the community and unveils new images of the project, a new web page – StansellHouse.org and feature profiles of supporters.

This year’s event raised more than $29,000 for the capital campaign. With the help of dedicated committee and board members, Coastal Hospice has raised $6.2 million, or approximately 75 percent of the amount needed to finish the project. A total of 2,100 individuals have donated to the campaign. The next phase of the campaign invites the public to contribute to the rooms of the Stansell House to leave a legacy for future generations to be served by this state-of-the-art hospice residence and community outreach center in Ocean Pines.

Donations may be made toward the volunteer work room, or one of two community-funded patient rooms – the Veterans Memorial Room and the Family Tribute Room. This vital new facility will be home for terminally ill patients, as well as a base for palliative care, counseling, grief support and community wellness pro-grams.

We would like to thank all who supported the house by attending Blues on the Bay. We are also ever grateful for Macky and Pam Stansell who open the doors of their restaurant every year as hosts of this annual event. The Stansells continue to show their commitment to Coastal Hospice and the vision of the new hospice home, now named after them to honor their generosity.

Sincerely,
Alane K. Capen
President, Coastal Hospice

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