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SPLC Seeks Hearing to Address Cobb County School District’s Retaliation and Continued Violation of Student’s Disability Rights

COBB COUNTY, Ga. – Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) petitioned the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings for a due process hearing on behalf of a five-year-old student with multiple disabilities who continues to be denied services in retaliation for his successful complaint against the Cobb County School District earlier this year.  

The petition claims that the school district continues to violate the student’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  

“By law and an order from the Georgia Department of Education, the district must provide our young client with a free and appropriate public education through his individualized education plan,” said SPLC Children’s Rights Attorney Eugene Choi. “However, the district has chosen to do whatever it can to minimize its obligation to this child; the district has gone too far. We have exhausted all options to get the district to stop violating our client’s rights. Unfortunately, the district has left us with no choice but to bring this action.” 

In February, the Georgia Department of Education ordered the Cobb County School District to compensate the student for special education services that were wrongly denied to the student while he was receiving medically necessary treatment for a chronic feeding disorder. The department also ordered district-wide changes to policies and procedures under the IDEA and Hospital/Homebound services program.  But in an individualized education plan (IEP) meeting on March 13, 2023, district representatives stated that the student would not be permitted to attend his current school in the upcoming 2023-2024 school year and instead must enroll in a separate school so that he would be with other similarly disabled children.  

The petition states that after the SPLC filed a grievance against the district on behalf of the student, the district cut the student’s IEP summer services by over 70 percent in retaliation. The district is also refusing to implement any of the student’s IEP services unless he goes to a different school to be with other children who it claims are more like him.  

The petition requests a hearing before the Office of State Administrative Hearings to end discrimination against the student and prevent further harm.