When most people think of the words “Georgia” and “segregation”, most people in this country think of racial segregation of the Jim Crow era of American history.
However, segregation still exists in Georgia, although it’s a different kind of segregation: segregating schoolchildren with behavioral disabilities from non-disabled schoolchildren and giving the disabled schoolchildren a far inferior educational experience than the non-disabled schoolchildren. Now, the U.S. Department of Justice has stepped in, and they’re using the federal Americans with Disabilities Act to try to end this form of segregation in Georgia schools:
The Justice Department has accused Georgia of segregating thousands of students with behavior-related disabilities, shunting them into a program that denies them access to their non-disabled peers and to extracurricular activities and other basic amenities, including gymnasiums, libraries and appropriately certified teachers.
The department’s years-long inquiry into Georgia’s programs, and the pressure it is now putting on state officials to revamp the way they educate students with disabilities, have brought hope to advocates in the state who have long tried unsuccessfully for change.
Justice did not investigate Georgia’s lapses under the nation’s main law for protecting the interests of special education students — the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. Instead, the department focused on the state’s failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a much more powerful civil rights tool, according to legal experts.
Once again, the school system in Georgia is running a separate and unequal scheme, but, this time, it involves giving students with behavioral disabilities an educational experience that is far inferior than the educational experience that non-disabled students receive. That is absolutely disgusting, and I hope that the Justice Department succeeds in its effort to bring an equal education experience to all Georgian schoolchildren.