2017 TASH Conference has ended

Each year, the TASH Conference brings together a diverse community of stakeholders who gain information, learn about resources, and connect with others across the country to strengthen the disability field. This year’s conference theme, “Still We Rise for Equity, Opportunity, and Inclusion,” shows the resilience of individuals with disabilities and their families across the lifespan. Conference attendees will celebrate their passion for disability rights, civil rights, and human rights while exploring inclusive communities, schools, and workplaces that support people with disabilities, including those with complex support needs. Return to TASH website.

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Friday, December 15 • 1:10pm - 2:00pm
Separate and Unequal - What You Need to Know about Segregated Education for Students with Disabilities in Georgia LIMITED

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Limited Capacity seats available

The state of Georgia is unique in having established a state-wide educational program, "the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Supports (GNETS)” that systematically segregates students with behavioral disabilities across the state. 4,000 students with disabilities, the disproportionate majority of whom are also students of color, have been sent to the GNETS program. Most of the GNETS programs are housed in completely separate schools (including some that were formerly schools for African-American students in the Jim Crow days). Other GNETS programs are inside regular schools but typically are housed in locked wings or have separate entrances, effectively operating as a separate school within the school. GNETS students are not only segregated from their non-disabled peers but also receive an inferior education. Typically, GNETS students are not taught by certified teachers; many are primarily taught through computers. As a result, less than a third of students are able to meet academic standards. Students cannot access the basic classes they need to earn a diploma, resulting in a graduate rate of GNETS students of only 10% (compared to a statewide rate of 78%). Many GNETS programs do not provide access to basic school services like gyms, libraries, or science labs. In addition, GNETS students are deprived of important co-curricular opportunities that other students enjoy, such as playing sports or participating in the school play. Parents and students have described GNETS as similar to a prison, with no way out. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice investigated GNETS and found that it violates Title II of the ADA by (1) unnecessarily segregating students with disabilities from their peers and (2) providing opportunities to GNETS students that are unequal to those provided to other students throughout the state. The Georgia Coalition for Equity in Education has long advocated for the state to integrate GNETS students into their neighborhood schools. Despite this, the state has continued to defend the program. In 2016, DOJ sued the state on the grounds that the GNETS program violated the ADA. This litigation is ongoing. Come learn about how disability organizations, through litigation and advocacy, are challenging this segregated system and fighting to ensure that students with disabilities are provided educational opportunities in their neighborhood schools that are equal to those provided to their peers without disabilities. This session perfectly aligns with TASH's 2017 conference theme "Still We Rise for Equity, Opportunity, and Inclusion" as the presentation will focus on multifaceted efforts to dismantle a segregated and inferior educational program in favor of one that is equitable, full of opportunity, and inclusive.

avatar for Leslie Lipson

Leslie Lipson

Attorney, Lipson Advocacy: Educational, Legal and Strategy Specialist
Talk to me about advocacy solutions using general educational and special education law, from a values-based foundation and mindset of presuming competence. My practice supports both attorneys and non-attorney advocates to succeed in school-based advocacy. Talk to me about grassroots... Read More →

Friday December 15, 2017 1:10pm - 2:00pm EST
L405 265 Peachtree Center Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303