According to the Washington Post, special education advocates in Georgia have for years argued that the state’s program for children with behavior-related disabilities unnecessarily segregates them from their non-disabled peers and provides them with fewer opportunities to learn and grow in the school system.
Advocates are hoping the years-long probe by the U.S. Justice Department into Georgia's special education system will have a national impact on the disability community by encouraging schools to be more inclusive of students with disabilities like autism.
The Justice Department's accusations say the state is failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, not the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as is usually the case with inquiries involving special education.
“The ADA serves as a powerful tool to open doors to persons with disabilities,” said Eve Hill, Justice’s deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights. “Promoting inclusive learning environments for students with disabilities reflects the importance of having children learn and play together, so that they can be prepared to live and thrive together.”
Autism Speaks has developed resources to help families access the services in schools to which their children are entitled and to support schools in becoming more inclusive of students with autism.
- The School Community Tool Kit was developed to provide helpful information about students with autism and tools and strategies to achieve positive interactions and increase learning for all members of the school community.
- Individualized Education Programs: Summary, Procses and Practical Tips, developed by a team of lawyers at Goodwin Procter LLP, helps families understand the IEP process and ensure their students are benefiting from school supports and resources.