Indian River School District Will Discontinue Special Needs Prog - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Indian River School District Will Discontinue Special Needs Program

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SELBYVILLE, Del.- The Indian River School District has reached a settlement with the Coalition For Education Reform.

The coalition is a group made up of activists and parents of special needs students at George Washington Carver Academy.

The lawsuit, which was filed in 2016, claims the school district used George Washington Carver Academy, a special needs program, as a dumping ground for African American students.

The lawsuit claims African American students were placed in the program disproportionately, and "on flimsy pretexts, segregating them at Carver on arbitrary grounds."

As part of the settlement, the school district has agreed to discontinue the program at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

The settlement also orders that the district provide increased career and technical opportunities, and a variety of elective course offerings for students grade 9-12.

Additionally, according to the settlement, "The district shall implement pre-referral intervention strategies in its high schools and appropriate functional behavioral assessment prior to referral for more intense intervention or special education."

"District students with behavioral challenges will be supported in their home schools by additional staff, including paraprofessionals and a mental health counselor, as needed, and teachers will receive training in pre-referral intervention strategies."

The agreement claims:

"District students enrolled in the Carver Academy Program at the end of the 2019 school year will be transitioned to an appropriate placement as determined by the IEP team with the goal of transitioning students to their home school or the least restrictive environment pursuant to the IDEA."

The district says the Academy is housed at what's called the George Washington Carver Educational Center. The center itself will stay, and so will some of the other programs that are ran out of the building. 

IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele says some of the space used for the Academy will now be used for other educational purposes, to possibly help with overcrowding.

Steele says disproportionate numbers seen before in the district were a result of limited resources, but those resources have gotten better, and there are currently less than 20 students at the Academy.  

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