State says Cobb schools unlawfully denied services to student with disabilities
Following an investigation, the Georgia Department of Education said the Cobb County School District failed to follow federal law by denying services to a 5-year-old student with disabilities.
“Failure of the Cobb County School District to complete the required actions may result in the withholding of federal and/or state funds for special education,” the state’s order said.
The parents of the student filed a formal complaint after Cobb schools denied home-based services for the student, who has Down syndrome and several other disabilities. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) joined them in the complaint.
The state found the district rejected the recommendations of two medical professionals that a unique, eight-week feeding program conducted during school hours was medically necessary for the student. After he missed 10 consecutive days of in-person school due to the medical program, the district withdrew the student and provided no special education to him from Sept. 29 through Nov. 22, and then re-enrolled him after the program was completed, according to the state.
As a result of the state’s review, Cobb School District has been ordered to provide compensatory services and review its policies. The state ordered Cobb to provide 50 hours of services to the student as well as directing the district to “review and revise, if necessary, its policies, practices, and procedures” related to services for students with disabilities.
Cobb must provide procedures to the state for approval no later than March 17, and upon approval, provide training to Cobb School staff.
The SPLC criticized the district’s actions and called for improvement in a news release:
“The district’s actions were arbitrary, and a blatant violation of the student’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Act and Georgia law regarding hospital and homebound services,” said Eugene Choi, senior children’s rights attorney for the SPLC. “We believe training for the district’s special education staff is critically important to ensure this does not happen again. Fortunately, the Georgia Department of Education agrees and will oversee the needed changes in the district.”
Cobb schools said, “We just received the Department’s guidance, are reviewing, and always appreciate opportunities to review policies and practices to best serve our students.”