Justice Department Sues Georgia Over Special Education After several months of negotiations with Georgia officials broke down, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit claiming the state violates the civil rights of students enrolled in its “psychoeducational” schools that segregate children with behavioral and emotional disabilities. The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   November 01, 2016
Justice Department Sues Georgia Over Special Education
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School-Based Settings / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   November 01, 2016
Justice Department Sues Georgia Over Special Education
The ASHA Leader, November 2016, Vol. 21, 10. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB7.21112016.10
The ASHA Leader, November 2016, Vol. 21, 10. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB7.21112016.10
After several months of negotiations with Georgia officials broke down, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit claiming the state violates the civil rights of students enrolled in its “psychoeducational” schools that segregate children with behavioral and emotional disabilities.
The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, is the Justice Department’s first-ever lawsuit against a state-run school system for segregating students with disabilities. It accuses Georgia of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act, which requires students with disabilities to be educated as often as possible with children who are typically developing.
The department is seeking to close the 24 Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS) programs. More than two-thirds of GNETS students attend classes in regional centers that are often far from their homes, and others attend classes in separate, isolated areas of general school buildings.
After investigating GNETS—the only such statewide network—the Justice Department notified Georgia officials in July 2015 that the GNETS segregation was illegal. It noted schools in which students with disabilities had no contact with typically developing children, as well as decrepit buildings with no libraries, gyms, science labs or other common features.
State and federal lawyers negotiated for eight months to settle the allegations. In July, state officials closed nine GNETS buildings, citing safety and health concerns, but then transferred the students to other buildings while keeping them segregated from mainstream students. Justice Department officials said the actions suggest the state intends to continue to operate a segregated and unequal statewide service system.
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November 2016
Volume 21, Issue 11