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Lewiston Schools Agree Not To Exclude Students For Behavioral Issues Related To Disability

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Lewiston Public Schools
Lewiston High School

The Lewiston Public School system has agreed not to exclude students from school for behavioral issues that arise as the result of a child's disability, but instead seek alternatives.

That's according to the terms of a settlement announced late Thursday with the U.S. Department of Justice.

"The hope is that really this would mark the beginning of the end of what we see as really an absurd practice of responding to the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of children with disabilities by providing them with less services, and denying them access to a full school day," says Atlee Reilly, managing attorney at Disability Rights Maine, one of several groups that filed a complaint against the Lewiston school system with the DOJ.

A representative from the Lewiston Schools Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reilly notes that many school districts in Maine, not just Lewiston, remove kids from school, or send them home early for exhibiting behavioral issues that are often related to a disability.

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

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.