Sunday, August 1, 2010

New Orleans schools aren't serving special education students well

It seemed like the wholesale takeover of New Orleans schools by the state following Hurricane Katrina was going so well, what with the Recovery School District spending twice the per-pupil amount as the state's other public schools, and all.

Then the Southern Poverty Law Center has to go and spoil it all by revealing that the city's Recovery District and charter schools are doing a lousy job of caring for special needs students.

As Times-Picayune reporter Cindy Chang puts it in this story, "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."

And since there are only a small handful of schools left under the jurisdiction of the much-maligned Orleans Parish School Board, there's no place left to place special needs children except the schools that were taken over by the state.

For his part, Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek is simply SHOCKED to learn that children aren't getting the services they deserve, and if only the Southern Poverty Law Center had called him instead of filing a lawsuit, this all could have been handled without any public outcry.

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