State finds Wake violated law for special-education students

Staff writerMay 10, 2010 

— The state Department of Public Instruction has ordered the Wake County school system to develop a new alternative program for long-term suspended students after concluding that the district had violated state and federal law for special education students.

State investigators concluded late last month that around 200 Wake County long-term suspended students who are being educated at home this year are not receiving a free and appropriate public education. The report faulted Wake for not having developed an adequate replacement to the Richard Milburn High School for long-term suspended students that was discontinued last year for budget reasons.

Wake annually issues more than 1,000 long-term suspensions, meaning those students are out of their regular school for the rest of the school year. Many of those students are also classified also receive special-education services that are protected under state and federal law.

At Richard Milburn, students attended classes in a building with both physical and virtual teachers. This year, students take online courses only.

The report said the new program didn’t meet the needs for students with disabilities.

In the absence of Richard Milburn, the report noted that long-term students were receiving instruction at home on weekends and after-school. But the report found that the Wake was providing these students with less than six hours of weekly instruction.

The report also found that many of the long-term suspended students receiving homebound instruction had not been promoted several times and had been suspended several times without getting proper special education services.

The investigation began after a complaint was filed by Advocates for Children’s Services, a non-profit group which has represented a number of students who’ve received long-term suspensions.

keung.hui@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4534

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