MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — Despite offering special incentives for teachers to work over the summer, Montgomery County Public Schools are still facing staffing shortages. These shortages are causing 200 students with special needs will have to participate in their summer school program virtually.

Esther Wells is the mother of 9-year-old Caleb, who has autistic spectrum disorder and ADHD. She says she saw this coming and even testified at a board of education meeting last month sounding the alarm trying to prevent this from happening.

Wells paraded a t-shirt saying “don’t mess with mama bear” on Friday.

“That’s why I’m wearing this shirt because I truly am in mama bear mode,” said Wells. “So when you come for our children or you don’t adequately provide the education and the system that they need, you will have a bunch of mama bears and parents that are like wait a minute.”

Kim Glassman, a Special Education Attorney, is an MCPS parent herself and represents parents of special education students. She says for a student to be eligible for extended school year an IEP team has determined that without these services they will regress

“If you’re taking away that in-person instruction opportunity you’re really taking away the opportunity to benefit from the services that the IEP team has determined they need,” said Glassman.

Fortunately for Wells, Caleb is one of the students who will be in person, but she worries about the parents who don’t have the resources to advocate for their child like she does. 

“I really wish MCPS — especially with our most vulnerable population — would do a much better job and just helping parents who are already you know, trying to get their children the services they need to just make it one less thing on our shoulders.”

MCPS says they will pay a person a family chooses to help their student with work, $19 per hour for four hours each day.