- Associated Press - Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Maryland psychiatrist who police say fatally shot herself and her 13-year-old son was distressed that the local public school system would not cover tuition costs for the special needs boy to attend a private school, her ex-husband said Thursday.

Jamie Barnhard told the Associated Press that his only son, Benjamin, had been accepted to a private school that helps children with learning disabilities. He said his ex-wife told him this month that their son wouldn’t be able to attend the Ivymount School, where he could have been in a program tailored for him, because Montgomery County public schools denied her request for tuition assistance.

County schools spokeswoman Lesli Maxwell declined to comment for privacy reasons.

Police found the bodies of Margaret Jensvold, 54, and her son inside their home Tuesday. They were believed to have been dead for several days, and officers responded after a coworker couldn’t contact her, police said.

Benjamin Barnhard had recently returned to his mother’s home in Kensington, an upper-middle class D.C. suburb, from a weight-loss program in North Carolina, where his father said he shed more than 100 pounds in about a year. He was on the autism spectrum, and her mother did not want him to return to a special education program in the county public school system, Mr. Barnhard said.

“She voiced her concern with me a number of times, stating that the school system is not responding and they’re not going to adequately address his needs, and he’s not going to be going to Ivymount this coming year,” Mr. Barnhard said.

Though he said he did not know for sure how to explain his wife’s actions, he said he thought the stress over her son’s future played a “significant role.”

Bob Baum, who represented Dr. Jensvold in her divorce, said his client was constantly fighting with the public school system over her son’s education.

“She had just this list of horror stories about how they would have IEP meetings and they wouldn’t invite her. If she would come to a meeting, they wouldn’t let her talk,” Mr. Baum said. “There’s probably nothing more frustrating in her life than dealing with Montgomery County public schools.”

Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery County police spokesman, said officers found a suicide note in the home that he said gave “an indication to her state of mind.” But he declined to reveal what it said.

Dr. Jensvold specialized in women’s health and most recently was working with Kaiser Permanente.

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