State demands Cobb Co. schools make improvements to special needs instruction

The state has given Cobb County until mid-March to make changes to its instruction plan for students with special needs.
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 5:59 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 27, 2023 at 6:18 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MARIETTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The state has given Cobb County until mid-March to make changes to its instruction plan for students with special needs.

In a 21-page decision, state officials said Cobb County School District has until March 17 to provide procedural changes to the Georgia Department of Education.

“Upon approval of these procedures, the district shall train all special education teachers and administrators in the district on how to implement these procedures through documented practices,” wrote Wina Low, State Director for Special Education Services and Supports.

Failure to complete the required actions could lead to the withholding of state and/or federal funds for special education, wrote state officials.

This ruling comes after the mom of a 5-year-old student, with assistance from the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a complaint against the district.

The student, whose name was redacted from the complaint, is a kindergartener in the Cobb County School District.

He has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. He’s non-verbal and requires special attention to help him eat.

In September 2022, medical professionals said he should get special treatment to help him eat. During this time, his mom contended he could not attend school in person.

During this 8-week period, the state confirmed the district wrongfully denied at-home (or in-hospital) instruction for the student.

“That’s potentially the most important thing that will be addressed with this case is ensuring that students who cannot attend school on a short-term basis for medically necessary reasons will then be able to receive services at home,” said Claire Sherburne, a senior staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Atlanta News First reached out to a spokesperson for the Cobb County School District but did not receive a response.

“The district shall review and revise, if necessary, its policies, practices, and procedures including but not limited to Least Restrictive Environment continuum for alternate placements (specifically addressing hospital/homebound services for students with disabilities), Implementation of the IEP (in particular the provision of services and supports to students with disabilities), records requests and provision of FAPE,” said Low.

Low insisted the district make sure the 5-year-old student gets the 8 weeks of instruction back that he missed in 2022.

“The district will provide a compensatory education plan to the GaDOE no later than March 3, 2023, advising how the compensatory hours will be delivered,” wrote Low.