School Board Policy Challenged by DRMS

May 15, 2014

http://lincolncounty.wlbt.com/news/schools/brookenhaven-school-districts-policy-challenged/44990

Brookhaven School District’s policy challenged

Submitted by News Staff
Tuesday, July 12th, 4:11 pm
Topics: Schools

The Brookhaven School District has been forced to changed its Board Policy after it was reportedly challenged and found to be in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The following is a press release from Disabilities Rights Mississippi:

JACKSON, MS – A Brookhaven School District Board Policy was recently challenged and found to be in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),the federal law that sets out policies and procedures for school districts to follow in providing services to students with disabilities.

Brookhaven had enacted a policy requiring any student in the District who was returning from an “institutional placement” such as Millcreek Rehabilitation Center, Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare or Oak Circle at Mississippi State Hospital to be transitioned through the District’s Alternative School prior to being allowed to attend classes back on a regular school campus.

Disabilities Rights Mississippi (DRMS) filed a systemic State Administrative Complaint with Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) on May 10, 2011. According to Sue Cannimore, Senior Advocate and Education Team Co-Leader with DRMS, the complaint was filed against a Board Policy that was in violation of IDEA and denied the rights of a class of students to placement decisions made by their Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) Committees. Cannimore said she and another DRMS advocate became aware of the violation when they had represented two separate students at IEP meetings in the District.

On June 7, MDE rendered its decision and prescribed a Corrective Action Plan that requires the District to officially amend its Board Policy to ensure compliance with the IDEA and submit the revised policy to MDE. They also are to amend the Alternative School Handbook to ensure consistency with the revised Board Policy and submit documentation of that. Finally, they must provide training to all District staff and administration on the provisions of IDEA for placement decisions. Documentation of training must also be submitted to MDE.

Ms. Cannimore said that MDE decisions are binding and failure to resolve deficiencies can adversely affect the accreditation status of the school district. Furthermore, the decision holds ramifications for other districts that may have similar policies and is important because it protects the class of students returning from institutional placements statewide.

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