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US DOJ: Lewiston Public Schools Must End 'Systemic And Discriminatory' Practices For Students With Disabilities, English Learners

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Linda Coan O'Kresik
/
Bangor Daily News

Lewiston Public Schools will no longer exclude kids from a full day of school or send them home for behavioral issues. The ACLU of Maine, and several others filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice against the school system for using such techniques, alleging that they were discriminatory and damaging.

“These are often disability-related behaviors. What this agreement stands for, from our perspective, [is that] this is really not an appropriate response to think that you're going to respond to a student's needs by giving them less services,” says Atlee Reilly, the managing attorney with Disability Rights Maine, one of the groups to file the complaint.

He says many schools across Maine, not just Lewiston, address behavior issues by simply sending kids home, sometimes early in the day.

The agreement makes it clear that schools need to find alternatives.

“The idea is not to have schools cope with behaviors. The idea is for schools to provide the supports that students need to change their behaviors," Reilly says.

The settlement also requires that the school system provide equal educational opportunities to its English learner students.