Law firm files complaint claiming SCCPSS violated educational rights of disabled students

Law firm files complaint claiming SCCPSS violated educational rights of disabled students
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A Savannah law firm has filed a formal complaint against the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System on behalf of students enrolled in the district that are eligible for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The complaint, filed by The Sullivan Law Firm, alleges that the school system violated the rights of the approximately 4,000 disabled students in the district since school started this August. The complaint was filed on Friday, Oct. 9 to the Georgia Department of Education.

The complaint claims that the school system did not adequately consider students' Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) during the decision to move school to a completely virtual model. It also states that the school system failed to provide prior written notice describing and explaining the policy decision and that the school system refused to consider any in-person activities, services, or support to students with IEPs.

The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System provided a statement on Monday, Oct. 12:

"The District is in receipt of the complaint and is reviewing the allegations closely. While the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System denies the claim that there is a “systemic” failure, this complaint will be taken seriously and the District will fully cooperate with the State Department of Education. The school system has provided educational services in a manner consistent with government directives and official health guidelines during this pandemic. As may be expected, there are differing views on how best to provide services to all students.

The Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is committed to serving our students with special needs in compliance with applicable legal requirements."

The Sullivan Law Firm proposes that some of the potential resolutions should be more training for the district, examining the prior written notice process and a school-level review of all IEPs.

The Georgia Department of Education said the “Division of Special Education Services & Supports received this systemic formal compliant on Friday and staff are reviewing now.”

The department said an overview of the process can be found by clicking here.

This is a developing story. Continue to check back for updates.

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