Georgia Department of Education orders compensation for student, policy changes and staff training to protect students with disabilities in the district
ATLANTA — The Cobb County School District will revise their policies and procedures for special education services after a five-year-old student diagnosed with Down Syndrome and a chronic feeding disorder was denied services, the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) announced Tuesday.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a complaint with GaDOE in December 2022 on behalf of the student, and their mother. The complaint described how the Cobb County School District refused to acknowledge the child’s treatment in an eight-week feeding program as “medically necessary” despite the recommendations of two medical professionals, and denied them access to hospital/homebound (HHB) services during the treatment period from Sept. 29, 2022 to Nov. 23, 2022. The district also withdrew the student after they missed ten days of school while receiving medically necessary care which prevented them from attending school in person.
On Feb. 14, the GaDOE found that the Cobb County School District was not in compliance with the “least restrictive environment” provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Act and failed to implement the student’s individualized education plan (IEP).
GaDOE is now requiring the district to review and revise their policies, practice and procedures for IDEA and HHB services for students with disabilities, among other provisions, and submit them to the GaDOE for approval by Mar. 17. The district must provide training to all special education teachers and administrators and send documentation to GaDOE by Apr. 28. The student will also receive 50 hours of compensatory education services in addition to the services they receive under their IEP.
“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.”