When her husband, a Marine Corps colonel, was transferred last summer from the Pentagon to a base in southern California, Karen Driscoll was forced to confront her autistic child’s new school district and the intricacies of federal special education law.
The Poway Unified School District near San Diego offered Driscoll’s 11-year-old, Paul, the support of an aide for 10 hours a week — fewer than half the 21 hours Fairfax County had provided and said he deserved under federal law.
“They slashed his services in half and said, ‘We believe this is comparable,’ ” Driscoll said.
Until recently, Driscoll would have had to fight the school district alone. But under a new Marine Corps initiative, she had reinforcements: a caseworker and a special education attorney, provided by the military, to accompany her to meetings with school officials and, if need be, to court.
That initiative is part of a larger military effort, led by the Marines and the Army, to address the medical, educational and emotional challenges faced by special-needs families.