Wednesday, June 3, 2009

FL: Federal investigation into 64 Florida school districts

Lee, Charlotte, Hendry, Desoto, and Glades counties on the list

By WINK News
Story Created: Jun 1, 2009 at 7:43 PM EDT
Story Updated: Jun 1, 2009 at 8:00 PM EDT

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA- Sixty-four school districts across Florida are now under investigation for civil rights violations, including five southwest Florida districts.

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights is looking into complaints that the districts may be denying rights to special needs students.

The complaints were filed by Collier ESE Reform, an advocacy group made up of Collier County parents with Special Needs children.

"This is very good news. I've been receiving emails all morning from attorneys and advocates because they appreciate and realize the problem that's going on in this state," said Catherine Cannivet on behalf of Collier ESE Reform about the new investigation.

OCR will check to see if procedural safeguards that are guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act are being folllowed properly by the school districts.

Districts receive federal funding to honor these safeguards, which gives the U.S. Department of Education the jurisdiction to investigate complaints, according to the OCR letter sent to Cannivet.

Last fall, OCR found the Collier County School District was in violation of section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act and issued a resolution.

However, Collier Schools are now being investigated again due to complaints that they may have violated that resolution.

The Collier County School District would not comment on this situation when CALL FOR ACTION first reported the OCR Investigation.

Spokespeople for the Lee and Charlotte County School districts said they are taking the matter seriously and providing OCR with whatever information they need to conduct their