Thirteen students with disabilities have filed a complaint against the Louisiana Department of Education alleging that the agency has looked the other way while New Orleans public schools commit a range of federal violations, from refusing to enroll them to failing to provide a blind third-grader with a full-time aide.
The radical post-Katrina restructuring of the New Orleans school system has benefited some students but left special-needs students behind, attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center, Southern Disability Law Center and Loyola Law School’s Community Justice Clinic write in the complaint.
Since the inception of special education in 1975, advocates have been fighting for the fair and equal treatment of students with disabilities. While some wanted these students to receive an educational experience that was comparable to their non-disabled peers, others, such as Lloyd Dunn, wanted to ensure that all students with disabilities: were treated equitably; received disability labels that were non-discriminatory; and were educated in general education versus special education classrooms- a placement where the curriculum was often described as substandard and incapable prepping students for any creditable post-secondary opportunity.
States are quickly lining up behind a set of ambitious national academic standards that set a high bar for students with disabilities.
Already 27 have adopted the plan known as the Common Core State Standards and several more states are expected to sign on in the coming weeks.
The standards, developed by members of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, are designed to establish uniform guidelines for English and math instruction in kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Schools struggle to meet the physical education needs of students with disabilities, according to a recent congressional investigation conducted in Maryland and six other states.
Released in June, the report from the Government Accountability Office, which is Congress’ investigative agency, shows schools offer opportunities for PE participation to students with disabilities that are similar to those of other students, but a lack of funding and teacher training hamper those efforts in general PE classes. In addition, students with cognitive and physical disabilities are less likely to participate in extracurricular athletics.
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