Lawsuit Alleges New Orleans Failing Special Education Students
After months of tension, advocates for students with disabilities filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging widespread discrimination by New Orleans schools.
The suit was filed last week by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of 10 students, including one with emotional disturbance who was kept in isolation and another who is blind and needed his mother to accompany him daily because he had no one to help him navigate school corridors.
The plaintiffs are seeking class action status, claiming that these students’ troubles are representative of wider problems in the city’s schools.
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Since Hurricane Katrina permanently altered the educational landscape in New Orleans, parents of those in special education have complained about schools rejecting their children or failing to meet the students’ needs. That led advocates to file a complaint with the state Department of Education in July, but mediation talks were unfruitful, resulting in the current lawsuit.
The plaintiffs are not asking for monetary compensation, but instead want the court to force both publicly-run schools and charters in the New Orleans area to provide an appropriate education for students with special needs, as is mandated by federal law.
A judge is expected to rule in January on whether or not the plaintiffs can have class action status, which would allow them to represent all 4,500 New Orleans students in special education, reports The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. To read more click here.