Listen to or read the NPR story on the struggles of kids with disabilities and their families who are trying to get an education in New Orleans. The "all-charter landscape" in New Orleans is not serving kids with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities and health conditions:
"The needs of children with disabilities have been an afterthought in New Orleans' all-charter landscape," says parent and activist Karran Harper Royal. She once had high hopes that the charter revolution — with its focus on innovation and change — would mean good things for her two sons with disabilities.
"I tell people I cannot believe I am longingly wishing for the old days of the Orleans Parish school system when it comes to children with special needs," she says.
Four years ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of the city's special needs students citing the state's "systemic failures to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to educational services and are protected from discrimination." The case continues to drag on, to the point that the presiding federal judge recently ordered mediation and appointed another federal judge to help spur negotiations.
"Right now we are seeing a lot of schools here that are simply unable to serve the most vulnerable and highest-need kids," says Joshua Perry, executive director of the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights. "Unfortunately it's too frequently that we find schools here for whom baseline compliance [with federal law] would be an improvement."
Read the article or listen to the radio story here.