Judge Denies Motion to Dismiss SPLC Suit Seeking Equal Education for Special Needs Students in New Orleans Wednesday, Apr 27 2011 

Parent Kelly Fisher shares her story of discrimination against her son.

Parents of  children with special needs in New Orleans  are one step closer to positive changes in the chaotic public school system.   On April 26, 2010  Federal Court Judge Jay Zaney denied the Louisiana Department of Education’s motion to dismiss the Southern Poverty Law Center’s lawsuit seeking justice for more than 4500 students with special needs attending public schools in the 51 different LEA’s (Local Education Agency) operating within the city of New Orleans.

While many hail the changes in public education in New Orleans as groundbreaking, some of the changes have been a nightmare for children with special needs.   Parents have to literally go school to school to apply and  are often dissuaded from even applying if they mention that their chid has special needs.  The state of Louisiana has no way of tracking how many parents are turned away.  Parents report  having been turned away from as many as 8 different schools once they revealed that their child has special needs.  During yesterday’s court hearing Judge Zaney asked the lawyers for the Louisiana Department of Education if this is how the system supposed to work.  The Lawyers responded that this is indeed how choice works in New Orleans.   Of course parents should not be turned away because of the special education status of their children, but the State of Louisiana has failed to put in safeguards to prevent this type of discrimination.  The lawsuit  hopes to correct this type of problem and many more  that many parents experience.

RSD Gets A New Superintendent Friday, Apr 8 2011 

John White has been tapped to lead the Recovery School District.   Honestly I don’t have much to say about Mr. White as the choice to lead the the Recovery School District (RSD).   As far as I am concerned, it doesn’t matter much who the new Superintendent is,  as it matters what is the agenda is for schools in New Orleans.   Recently, State Superintendent Paul  Pastorek held several small group meetings with people throughout New Orleans to get their input into his vision/ agenda for  the RSD.   I attended one of these meetings last week along with a couple of parents.   I told Mr. Pastorek that I didn’t believe the RSD needed to continue as a direct operator of schools and that several schools should come under direct control of our locally elected school board.   of course Mr. Pastorek disagreed with me.   It is my opinion that the RSD has been a complete failure and should not continue.   If I don’t believe the RSD should continue,  why should we get a new Superintendent?  The state operated the RSD just fine before it got into directly operating schools after Hurricane Katrina.  The schools operated by the RSD have been the lowest performing schools in the city.   We need to push for the end of the RSD and not get distracted by Pastork’s choice  lead the RSD.  No matter the person, it is the agenda for the RSD that will lead our kids on a Race to Nowhere.

I’m off to Baton Rouge right now where the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will vote to approve Pastorek’s choice so I will post more later, but check out what Parents Across America has written about John White.

Also, join us Tuesday for the local screening of Race to Nowhere.  After the screening, there will be a discussion about creating emotionally intelligent, psychologically intelligent schools.

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