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Calcasieu Parish Public School System

At the Calcasieu Parish Public School System in Louisiana, students with disabilities or emotional disturbances found themselves pushed out of the classroom by a school system that arbitrarily shortened their school day and removed students from class with little reason.

When many of these students were in school, they did not receive the services they deserve under federal law.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Southern Disability Law Center filed a class administrative complaint against the school system on Sept. 21, 2007. A negotiated settlement was reached on Oct. 11, 2007.

This settlement helps ensure these students get the services they need while also opening the door for some of these students to attend regular classrooms. A national consultant will work with the school district on various aspects of the agreement. Community groups will monitor the schools for compliance with certain provisions.

The class action administrative complaint represents about 700 students.

Highlights of the agreement include:

  • The district will revise its discipline policies and prohibit "cool off" days and other practices that remove these students from class without any documentation. Shortened school days will be prohibited for all students with disabilities unless a student’s individual educational plan requires it.

  • A plan to reduce the number of suspensions and expulsions of these students will be developed by the district and a national consultant. The district will develop a computerized record system to document the number of disciplinary referrals, removals and arrests of students with disabilities across the district.

  • Remedial reading and math classes will be provided for these students who are determined to be more than two years behind his or her chronological grade level in these subjects. A plan will be developed by the district and the national consultant to ensure students who are 16 years of age or older receive appropriate transition services, such as vocational education.

  • The school district and a national consultant will develop a plan to reduce the disproportionate number of black students with disabilities removed from regular classrooms and taught in a segregated environment.

  • A national expert will implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) across the district. This program rewards and encourages positive behavior.