Monday, May 9, 2016

Georgia ‘psychoeducational’ students segregated by disability, race

Georgia ‘psychoeducational’ students segregated by disability, race:

Georgia ‘psychoeducational’ students segregated by disability, race

Part one of a three-part series: Schools send disproportionate number of black children to programs already under fire for ‘warehousing’ students with behavioral disorders.

 David punched and kicked and spat on his teachers. He knocked over furniture. He poked a hole in a classroom wall. He pelted other students with stones and shoved a school police officer.

At age 7, David was too much for his teachers to handle. So they decided to send him to a special program — unique to Georgia — called a psychoeducational school. He was like so many others already there: male, diagnosed with a behavioral disorder — and black.
Georgia’s public schools assign a vastly disproportionate number of African American students to psychoeducational programs, segregating them not just by disability but also by race, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found.
Black children form the majority at programs where teachers restrained children with dog leashes, where psychologists performed behavioral experiments on troubled students, and where chronically disruptive students spent time in solitary confinement, locked in rooms with bars over the windows. In one such room, euphemistically called a “time-out” area, a 14-year-old boy hanged himself.
Fifty-four percent of students in Georgia’s psychoeducational programs are African American, compared to 37 percent in all public schools statewide, the Journal-Constitution found. In half of the 24 programs, black enrollment exceeds 60 percent. In one, nine of every 10 students are African American.
The Journal-Constitution analyzed data on most of the 3,382 students assigned last fall to the psychoeducational programs, formally known as the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support, or GNETS. The analysis, along with interviews with parents, their lawyers, educators and others, depicts a system that provides little of the mental health treatment and other therapies for which it was created. Just 5 percent of the programs’ full-time employees are psychologists, social workers or behavior specialists. Nine programs employ more clerical workers than therapeutic professionals.
The newspaper’s findings add a new dimension to allegations that Georgia illegally segregates disabled students in GNETS programs. The U.S. Department of Justice says the Americans with Disabilities Act gives GNETS students the right to attend school in less-restrictive settings with children who are not disabled. Federal authorities may file a lawsuit to force the state to close the programs.Georgia ‘psychoeducational’ students segregated by disability, race:

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