Equity & Diversity

Report: Justice Department to Sue Georgia Over Special Education School Network

By Christina A. Samuels — August 19, 2016 1 min read
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The U.S. Department of Justice plans to sue Georgia after failing to come to an agreement over a state-run school network for students with behavior disabilities, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

A year ago, the Justice Department notified the state that the Georgia Network for Therapeutic and Educational Support, or GNETS, was illegally segregating students with disabilities and providing them an inferior education. Georgia did eventually shut down nine dilapidated buildings, the newspaper reported, but after eight months of negotiations, the state and federal officials weren’t able to agree on whether the system itself was a segregated placement.

Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, wrote to Gov. Nathan Deal that “we have determined that we must pursue the United States’ claims in federal court to vindicate the rights of thousands of affected students with behavior-related disabilities across Georgia.”

GNETS is the only statewide network of “psychoeducational” schools for children with behavioral and emotional disabilities. In a three-part series published in May, the Journal-Constitution found that black students are assigned at “vastly disproportionate rates” to the network. GNETS schools also use restraint and seclusion far more often than the state’s other schools—the newspaper found more than 10,000 incidents of restraint since 2014.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.