Last year, the Department of Justice came down hard on the Georgia school system after they learned about the segregation and isolation of disabled students into special "psycho-educational programs." But now, another investigation into these special programs has revealed that a disproportionate amount of black students are sent to these facilities. New reporting reveals that students are offered little or no psychiatric help and spend much of the day either playing games or sitting in isolation. Even more problematic, parents who want to challenge their child’s placement in these programs often must resort to legal action in order to extricate their child.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Alan Judd and attorney Leslie Lipson of the Georgia Advocacy Office sit down with us to talk about the investigation and what can be done to change the current situation in Georgia’s school system.
The Department of Education reached out shortly after the show began. Read their full statement below
High-quality public education for all students is at the highest tier of priorities for the State of Georgia. Georgia strives to provide each student with disabilities with education and related services designed to meet his or her unique needs in the environment that allows the most interaction with non-disabled peers. The specific education and related services appropriate for one student may be inappropriate for another student, and the same is true regarding the setting in which education and related services are delivered. The law unequivocally rejects the "one size fits all" approach to educating students with disabilities.
The information available to the State indicates that the DOJ's allegations of systemic inadequacy in the provision of special education and related services are not accurate, and the DOJ has not provided information as to any specific instance of alleged inadequate services or overly restrictive environments. Georgia is complying with the law and acting in the best interest of its students.
We are certainly open to ways in which we can improve our service delivery and want to work (with our state and federal partners) to continually improve and better serve all students in the state.