Você está na página 1de 2

Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc.

313 West Martin Street Raleigh, North Carolina 27601 Phone 919.856.2564 Fax 919.856.2120 Serving low-income clients in all 100 counties of North Carolina George R. Hausen, Jr., Esq. Executive Director www.legalaidnc.org

Administrative Office

For Immediate Release August 9, 2012 Media Contacts Lewis Pitts, Managing Attorney, Advocates for Childrens Services, Legal Aid of North Carolina, (919) 271-2897, lewisp@legalaidnc.org Sean Driscoll, Director of Public Relations, Legal Aid of North Carolina, (919) 856-2132, seand@legalaidnc.org

Lawsuit Says State Illegally Denied Special Education Services To Children in Private Psychiatric Facilities
RALEIGH, N.C. Advocates for Childrens Services, a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina, today filed a lawsuit against state education officials for failing to provide special education services to a 13year-old child with disabilities who has been confined to a psychiatric residential treatment facility (PRTF) since December 2011.
The lawsuit was filed in Wake County Superior Court against the chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Education, William Harrison, and the state superintendent in the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI), June Atkinson. The child, identified in the lawsuit by his initials, E.S., is African American and from a low-income family in Raleigh. The Wake County Public School System identified his disabilities in 2004 and developed for him an Individualized Education Program, a legally mandated plan to meet the unique educational needs of students with disabilities. In December 2011, following an order from the Wake County juvenile court, E.S. was placed in The Keys of Carolina, a PRTF located in Charlotte and licensed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). During his seven-month, involuntary commitment at the facility, the state has failed to implement an Individualized Education Program for E.S. and provide him with special education services, violating his right to a free, appropriate public education. Our client is one of hundreds of young people who are shipped to private residential facilities each year and then forgotten by the state, says Jason Langberg, Equal Justice Works Fellow with Advocates for Childrens Services. We hope this case sends a clear message to the State Board of Education, DPI, and other agencies: There are no throw-away children. Under state law, the State Board of Education and DPI are ultimately responsible for ensuring that all students with disabilities receive necessary special education and related services, including those students placed in private residential facilities by state action, such as a juvenile court order. DPI can meet this obligation by delegating responsibility to local school districts or by entering into interagency agreements that clarify each agencys role in providing services. In December 2011, DPI and DHHS

entered into an agreement to ensure the provision of services to these students, but the agreement was rescinded in February 2012 and a new one has yet to be created. Meanwhile, E.S. and children like him are languishing without the services they need. This system is setting up children to fail, says Lewis Pitts, managing attorney of Advocates for Childrens Services. In addition to breaking the law, the states negligence means that children are leaving these facilities unprepared to reenter their schools and communities. A favorable ruling for our client in this case will begin the process of reversing such practices and will have positive ripple effects across the state. ### Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Advocates for Childrens Services (ACS) is a statewide project of Legal Aid of North Carolina that serves children from low-wealth communities in education, Medicaid, and foster care cases. The focus of ACSs work is fighting for education justice and ending the school push-out crisis in North Carolina through legal advocacy and community education. For more information, visit www.legalaidnc.org and www.legalaidnc.org/acs.